Thursday, 23 February 2017


Stoyan Bacharov Dramatic Theatre, Varna
Photo Mark Ahsmann
Source Wikipedia
Creative Commons Licence

Cornishman Owen Morris is one of the artists of the State Ballet of Varna. Owen comes from Liskeard which is very close to Looe where I have spent many holidays as a child and adult over the last 60 years (see Ballet in Cornwall 17 Sept 2016). In response to a message that I was coming to Truro to see Duchy Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty on 18 March 2017, he wrote:
"Terence Etheridge first introduced me to ballet and coached me And taught me for a while and encouraged me to train at ballet west and he used to teach sara and Jonathan at ballet west 👍small world !! Come out to Bulgaria next where I am working with ballet of the State Opera Varna doing some cool ballets I think you would enjoy, plus it's a holiday destination 😜"
He added:
"I have only been here three weeks but I'm out here till the summer recently did Don Quixote last week ! Big dance culture out hear in Bulgaria !! ......"
Owen has done well to find work at Varna because audiences there are likely to know a thing or two about ballet as the city holds a biennial International Ballet Competition whose winners include Ekaterina MaximovaMikhail Baryshnikov, Sylvie Guillem and Chi Cao.

Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria.  It is situated on the Black Sea coast some 250 miles east of the capital, Sofia. It is a major port, naval base, university town and seaside resort. Nearly 420,000 people live in the Greater Varna area. Its twin town in the United Kingdom is Liverpool which is another city where audiences know a thing or two about ballet (see Dawson's Swan Lake comes to Liverpool 29 May 2016) including, most particularly, one of this blog's valued contributors.

According to its website. Owen's company has recently performed The Nutcracker, Don Quixote in which Owen had a role and Giselle.  I think they were performed between the 5 and 10 Jan 2017 as the Ballet in Bansko season, an event promoted by the city's mayor. The website does not announce any forthcoming performances but it lists some of those presented last year which include The Sleeping Beauty in October, a gala in July with dancers from the Bolshoi, as well as the works performed in January.

According to Wikipedia, the Bulgarian National Ballet was founded in 1928. It now occupies an impressive building with a doric colonnade in Sofia.  Forthcoming performances include a children's version of Cinderella this Friday and Saturday, Lilly and the Magic Pearl (another ballet for children choreographed by Masha Ilieva) on Sunday, La Bayadère on 11 March, Carmen and Rhapsody in Blue on the 19 and 31 March, Giselle on 26 March, La Dame aux Camélias on 2 April and Petrushka and The Firebird on the 7 and 8 April 2017.

While researching Bulgaria's dance culture I came across a company called the Sofia Ballet which describes itself as "the first private classical ballet company formed in Bulgaria, created mainly for realization of tours abroad."  its dancers come from the Sofia National Opera and Ballet, Bucharest National Opera and Ballet, Chisinau National Opera and Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, Macedonian Opera and Ballet and other companies. Its repertoire appears to include the usual 19th-century Russian classics.  The website does not list its previous or future engagements but if they ever come to the UK I shall make a point of watching them.

As I always like to feature up and coming dancers, Owen has very kindly agreed to give me an interview and I shall now go away and think of some sensible questions to ask him.

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