Natascha de Vries is from the Netherlands. The 25 years old moved to Bulgaria before almost two years since the summer of 2014 because she wanted to be a professional Bulgarian folk dancer. Unfortunately, in few weeks she is going back to her homeland but here it is what she shared with us about her Bulgarian experience so far.
How have you become so passionate about Bulgarian folk dances? Share with us the story about your first time in Bulgaria?
- In the Netherlands I studied at dance academy to become a dance teacher. We had different courses like ballet and contemporary dancing but also international folk dancing. We would have like mostly Eastern European folk dancing so Russian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbian, just name it we did it. When I was in my third year we went to Bulgaria for one week for a school and study trip. And I just fell in love. We went to see a rehearsal at ensemble “Trakiya” and they gave us a small performance. I was just stunning and I was thinking: “This is what I want. I will work as a Bulgarian folk dancer someday.” The summer after I have graduated. I went to Plovdiv and I did a seminar for a week. The director of the ensemble “Trakiya” was there because they were giving another performance. I just went to her and I’ve said: “Can I have like an internship or something like this with you?”, and she said: “Okay! There is another Dutch girl coming in September (within a month) so if you want you can join her”. So I went to Plovdiv for three months, danced with ensemble “Trakiya” and then I was even more in love. This was in 2013 before I’ve moved here.
What was reason to decide to move to Bulgaria?
- When I’ve returned to the Netherlands. I was living with my mom and I had some kind of a small job. And I was thinking: “Okay, what’s next?”. I’ve got a call from a friend from ensemble “Trakiya” and she said: “There is going to be an audition for ensemble “Pirin”. You should go!” So I went, auditioned and they said to me that I can come. When I moved here I lived in Blagoevgrad. When I did an audition for ensemble “Pirin” they told me that I can do an internship with them for six months and if I could learn what I have to learn then we will have a discussion about the next step. So I moved to Blagoevgrad danced and trained with ensemble “Pirin” and after half an year they have said: “Sorry, but you are just not good enough”. So I’ve decided to move back to the Netherlands but I’ve asked myself: “Is it my hall Bulgarian experience then?”. I knew about the jobs opportunities for foreigners in Sofia. So I’ve decided to move to Sofia instead and to join the Student ensemble “Zornitza”. In that way I could keep dancing, hopefully perform, to have some additional experience and to have some money because it was difficult to find a job in Blagoevgrad. But this was the so called “Plan B” for me to move to Sofia to have an office and to dance for fun. At the end I think it was better idea but I’ve done it and now I think it’s time for something else.
How you find Sofia as a city to live in?
- I remember that before I came to live in Sofia I didn’t like the city that much. I was totally in love with Plovdiv and I was thinking that Sofia wasn’t cool. But then I’ve moved here and I am so happy that I did it. I was living in a smaller city (Blagoevgrad) and when I moved here I just love it. I totally changed my mind. It is so cultural. There is stuff happening every day - two concerts every night that I would like to go and see. It is amazing.
Name your favorite places in Sofia?
- I like that there are so many cool, cultural and artistic places. I like to spent my days drinking coffee at the literature club “Peroto”. For a drink with a friend I like The Apartment and Hambara. For the night out – Culture Beat, Maze, Terminal 1.
Your Bulgarian is quite good, actually. How have you learn to speak Bulgarian?
- I can make it work. I have to speak Bulgarian because I am dancing in this Bulgarian group and besides me there is only one Australian girl and the others are Bulgarians and they speak in Bulgarian so I have to know what is going on. When I’ve started to live here I had language classes via skype by a Bulgarian woman who was living in the USA. I’ve been listening to Bulgarian all day and I had the classes and I guess it just happens.
What is your Bulgarian favorite word?
- I remember that for me it was hard to learn the world “Заповядай!“[Za-po-vya-dai] (English translation: Here you are!). It was so hard to pronounce it. I like to say that my favorite expression is “Всичко е ток и жица!“[“Vsich-ko e tok i jit-za”] (English translation: Everything is over the moon!). It is funny to learn new words, to try them in conversation and to see the reaction of people.
What have you discovered as unique feature in Bulgarian character?
- There is something that I had to get used to and it is a big difference between the Netherlands and Bulgaria. In the Netherlands everyone apreciates their personal space and in Bulgaria people stay like super close to you.
What do you think about the magazines City® Info Guides?
- It’s super beautiful for the foreigners and I think that you have all kind of information which is so nice.