Monday, 08 June 2020 07:07

Prof. Anton Andonov: Most of all Dance is an emotion

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Dear readers of "We hear you", today we are introducing you to our guest who is a teacher, expert of traditional Bulgarian dance folklore. He teaches dance classes both in Bulgaria and abroad. He’s a former solo dancer at the Folklore Ensemble "Trakia" (1995), as well as the author of a number of dance stage performances carried out by various professional and amateur folk ensembles. He’s a graduate of the National School of Dance Arts Sofia and the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts Plovdiv. He’s been the head of Choreography Department at the former university since 2011. He’s been teaching choreographic composition in Belgrade (Serbia). He is the author of a number of scientific works on Bulgarian stage and traditional dance folklore. He judges a number of Bulgarian as well as international dance contests and festivals. We are discussing about the magic of dance, the correlation between rhythm and the sense of rhythm in deaf people. Dear readers, meet Prof. Dr. Anton Andonov!


Prof. Andonov, we are glad that you are a guest of the specialized site "We hear you"! In your opinion, what’s the common ground between the deaf people and folk music and dance?

Hello! Folk music and dance might be a challenge for people who are deaf or with hearing loss, and when they have little or no experience with those dances. I think it’s essential to have the percussion instruments to play the rhythm cleary, so that deaf people could feel the rhythm of the dances and would sense the metre of dance. Assuming that there are people with different rates of hearing loss, the ones among them whose hearing is less affected could well lead the group in Bulgarian folklore dance.

You mean that they need a powerful vibration to feel the rhythm of the dance? Is it also possible for deaf people to sense the rhythm only by the movements of professional dancers or choreographers?

Yes, indeed. Besides, people who are profoundly deaf, have a very keen sense of movement and could figure out the steps. They would benefit from a person with a small percentage of hearing impairment, since the latter could lead them in the dance. The same could happen if there's an experienced dancer or choreographer, who dances in front of them, so they can follow his footsteps. Also, I’ve noticed, that people with hearing loss have a very keen visual memory. Therefore, if somebody regardless of his/her hearing status shows them the dance in front of them, they could do well.

The majority of the people with hearing loss can’t even imagine that they could do such a thing. At the same time, many of them love dancing, but would rather do this at home, watching video lessons to teach themselves the steps.

I’d like to congratulate the ones who are interested in dancing and do it at home! I’d be glad to teach people with hearing impairment, too. To me, what matters the most in this situation is their desire to dance and one’s love of dancing.

Our readers often ask us via e-mail for a place where they could dance. But many of them fear dancing in groups with hearing dancers, because they are worried they might to disturb somebody or they would be forced to compete against the other dancers. They also fear being out of sync with the instrumental, because they can’t hear it.

I guess they might feel worried. Such a thing is possible which is why we need to organize dance classes designed especially for people with hearing impairments to make sure that their needs are met. First of all, they need to feel better. For most of all, dance is an emotion. When you’re worried, you are unlikely to feel it.

You’re absolutely right! Nowadays the interest towards Bulgarian folklore dance is on the rise again. Before the COVID-19 crisis they were even organizing folklore dance lessons for foreigners in many of our cities. But there is not a dance class for people with hearing loss.

Yes, indeed, they don’t offer such classes which is something I find rather inexplicable. May be some of choreographers think organizing such classes would be difficult but they’ve never really tried this. We need to do this. I believe that working with deaf and hard of hearing people would be beneficial. I’d be glad to work with such children. Children naturally have a quick memory. It’s also crucial for the teachers to figure out the proper dances that will motivate the deaf people at the very beginning of their journey into dances. Quick change of movements and figures needs to be avoided because it hampers the learning process. I firmly agree that the deaf people need such classes. They are just like anybody else who wants to learn to dance. They have plenty of qualities, they have a potential to develop their skills over time.

There are plenty of young people in Bulgaria, who have hearing loss and have a good deal of experience with folklore dances. They have participated in a number of art festivals for deaf amateurs. We strongly believe that hearing loss is not a barrier for somebody who is willing to experience the magic of dance profoundly! We are glad to know that you are just as convinced about this, Prof. Andonov!

I’m really glad that Bulgarian folklore dances is in your hearts. This is very important for the people who love to dance. I’ll be extremely happy to have I've contributed to your experience of the magic of the dance!

Christina Tchoparova

EN Translation by: Maria Mihailova

Photos by Anton Andonov (personal archive)

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