Young Bulgarian dancers come to Carbon County
|Stephanie Giacoletto who came back to her home turf with the dancers receives a gift of thanks from the mayor of Montana, Bulgaria, Zlatko Zhivkov.|
Stephanie Giacoletto of Helper has been a Peace Corp volunteer, serving in Montana, Bulgaria for the last two years. The Peace Corp program is 27 months long.
During that time she has been an English teacher at a school named Fifth School, Hristo Botev. It is one of the few schools in Bulgaria that teaches Traditional Bulgarian Folk Dancing. When Stephanie went in for her first day of class they sent the dancers in to perform a welcoming dance for her.
"I was awed by the performance," she said in an interview last Wednesday. "The dance reminded me of home."
What it reminded her of is the International Folk Festival. People came over from Krausa, Romania, and Italy to perform at this festival. When Stephanie was young her family took in some of the dancers. The first year they took in men from Krausa. The second year they took in women from Italy.
Judy Bush was the person who originally started this program. Judy's husband worked for the school district at that time. Stephanie states how great the experience was for the whole family at the time.
|With the Bulgarian flag flying over their shoulders the dancers thrilled the audience.|
"It was so neat to learn about them and their customs," she said. One day, shortly after her first day at the Bulgarian school, she went to watch the dancers rehearse for a concert. "That is when I decided I wanted to bring them home to share this awesome group with my home town." Stephanie approached the principal, Vilma Gergieva, and the dance teachers, Anton Dimov and Annie Peycheva, about bringing them to the states. "Our culture is so different from theirs," she said. "They have been under Turkish rule and also under Communist rule as well. They were very hesitant about coming to America."
Americans are go getter's in the sense that anything is possible and Stephanie's enthusiasm got them convinced it could happen. Stephanie wanted to get them here by August for the Arts Festival. To raise money, they approached the Montana Mayor, Zlatko Zhivkov, and the city about helping out. They donated a substantial amount of money towards getting the dancers to America. The size of the group that came over to perform is 13 dancers, ranging in age from 12 to 18. As people watched them on the stage during their performances many must have wondered about their names. They included Tsvetina, Pepa, Monika, Gabriela, Irena, Zortesa, Daniela, Venelina, Bobbi, Ivo, Martin, Tachi, and Itso, two dance teachers mentioned earlier, music teacher Tstetska Alekandrova, (who is the vocal entertainer for the group), the principal, the mayor, and a translator, Nelly Yordanova. The dancers loved the Carbon County area. They enjoyed how big it feels. The Helper area is the same size as Montana as far as square mileage goes. The population is a different story though. Helper has about 2,000 residents compared to Montana, which has 50,000 residents in the same amount of space.
They also commented on how nice the people are here. They enjoyed both the desert and the mountains. They were intrigued by our mountains because the mountains in Bulgaria are like the mountains in the eastern part of the United States.
The Giacoletto family held yard sales to earn money to get the dancers here for the concerts. Considering that the average income of a Bulgarian family is $200 per month any support helped. Amazingly, despite the low income of the populace, the dancers were able to come up with half the money for the plane tickets and visas on their own.
During their time in the area they did numerous performances at Mont Harmon Junior High and one at the Rio Theater on March 24. They also did some singing at the Balance Rock Eatery in Helper on Friday.
The dancers and their entourage returned to Bulgaria this week, with memories they and their audiences will never forget.