How do you write a review of a performance dance group that wears Viking costumes, uses bones to play their drums, and has pyrotechnics so badass that I could feel them twenty rows back in the audience? I was clapping so hard during Vakali’s performance at the National Palace of Culture (NDK) in Sofia last week that my hands still hurt?
As you drive into the village of Gela in southern Bulgaria a sign informs you that this is the birthplace of Orpheus, the legendary Thracian musician and poet. I’m not sure if it’s true, but who wouldn’t be able to “charm all living things and even stones” with their music if they were born in a village with such a view? These are the Rhodope Mountains in the golden afternoon sunlight of early spring.
Gela is just a stone’s throw from the cultural village of Shiroka Laka and about twenty minutes from the ski resort town of Pamporovo.
Yesterday I met Zachary Karabashliev, the talented Bulgarian author, at a book launch event in Sofia. His 2008 novel 18% Gray is set in San Diego, California and follows the story of a fictional young Bulgarian couple named Zachary and Stella. As a born and bred San Diegan married to a Bulgarian named Stella I just had to meet him and have a laugh about how random it all was.
And laugh we did—all the way onto the stage during the live stream of the event!
Accidental foray into public speaking in Bulgaria: ✓