Last week the nation celebrated Welcoming Week, an initiative that seeks to build inclusive communities that welcome people from all over the world. Sammamish’s library participated by organizing events to showcase the rich cultures in our area.
Among these was a performance by the Hopa Trop Folk Ensemble, a Bulgarian folk dance group. Daniela Makedonska, 57, art director and choreographer of Hopa Trop, is a professional dancer who founded the group in 2012 after some parents asked her to teach their kids.
Born in Bulgaria, Makedonska was immersed in dance from a young age.
“In Bulgaria, folk dancing is a part of life…it’s a part of most celebrations,” she said.
Many of the kids she currently teaches are of Bulgarian descent but born in the U.S.
“It’s very important to keep the kids connected with their culture… they should be able to express and celebrate it,” Makedonska said.
Hopa Trop has performed across the greater Seattle area and has participated in Welcoming Week events before. On Sunday, Sept. 18, they danced under the pergola at the library.
The audience enjoyed a three-part performance. The first dance was an uplifting dance from northern Bulgaria with simple steps.
“I try to weave a lot of authentic dance [steps] from our ancestors into the performance,” Makedonska said.
The second dance, from central Bulgaria, started with a mellow rhythm and picked up in the middle to end on an energizing note. She explained that dancing with energy is an element of folk dance, which is why it was important to include energetic elements in all three dances.
The final performance was a combination of dance moves from several regions of Bulgaria. There was a small mistake during the beginning of the performance, so Makedonska asked for a chance to restart. She wanted it to be perfect as “it is special and beautifully completes everything.”
After the ensemble’s performance, Makedonska explained how each dancer’s costume was from a certain part of Bulgaria. The brightly colored garments matched with the yellow and red floral hair accessories they wore. The flowers represent the celebration of the season’s end.
Finally, Makedonska and the ensemble asked the audience to join in for the encore. The volunteers and dancers held hands until they formed a circle. Then, the music played and everyone did some simple steps together, ending with a celebratory train of dancers.
Makedonska said that anyone, regardless of age, nationality, gender, or dance experience, is welcome to join the group at LaVida Dance Studio in Kirkland.
If you would like to try Bulgarian folk dancing, please visit Hopa Trop’s classes website for details.
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