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Iliana Bozhanova is a native of Galabovo, Bulgaria, and comes from a family of South Thracian musicians and singers. She was born in 1961. In 1981, Iliana graduated from the National School for Art Instructors. She completed her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in "Bulgarian Folk Dances and Choreography" in Plovdiv at the Academy of Music and Dance Art, the oldest in the Balkans and the most prestigeous Folk Art Academy in Bulgaria.
Since her childhood, Iliana has been a member of Folk Dance Ensemble Râčenica in Plovdiv with Artistic Director Dimitar Doichinov. Râčenica, which was formed in 1949, gave her unforgetable opportunities to introduce folk art during many performances in Bulgaria and International Dance Festivals in Belgium, France, Greece, Holland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, and Serbia. Iliana says she will never forget the wonderful people from "Râčenica" and the fact that with the Ensemble she made her first steps as a dance teacher!
In 1981, Iliana became the Choreographer and Artistic Director of two children's folk dance ensembles: Radost from the village of Loakim Gruevo, and Roza Dimitrova's Orphanage Kids. For these children she made her first dance choreographies and introduced the ensembles in the Festival for Amateur Folk Art in Plovdiv. Besides her work as a dance teacher and choreographer, Iliana works as a Technician of Architecture and Civil engineering. She is married and has two sons.
Since 1995, Iliana has worked with the Bosilek Bulgarian Folk Dance Ensemble in New York with Artistic Director Cathie Springer. Iliana created 10 dance choreographies for the Ensemble: "Enyovden," "Pirinska miluvka,"" Babini unuki," "Haide bulki na pazar," "Shopski tants," "Varnenski tants," "Maimari," "Byalo, zeleno, cherveno," "Peperuda v Dobrudzha," and "Na firuglitsa." She used folk dance materials from all over Bulgaria. Ensemble "Bosilek" and Cathie Springer gave her the unique opportunities to create, develop, share, and enjoy the richness of Bulgarian Folklore. Iliana is grateful to "Bosilek" because in 1995 they "opened the door to the World" for her International teaching career!
Iliana has worked as a choreographer with Ensemble "Zarove" in Najmegen, Holland, since 1995. Artistic Director of this wonderful children's group is Esther Willems. To work with kids has always been interesting for Iliana and for her "Zarove" is something really special. She created several suites for them, including "Trakiiski ritmi," "Detsata na Pirin," "Dobrudzhancheta," and "Krivo horo."
In June 2004, Iliana was invited to create a Bulgarian dance choreography for "Het International Dance Theather" in Amsterdam with Artistic Director Maurits van Geel. Her choreography, "S pozdrav ot Bulgaria," was part of their big dance show "Finale 10,000 Volt." This is the only professional international folk dance theather in Holland. Iliana was very happy to meet and work with the dancers, musicians, and faculty of the Theatre.
Other Folk Dance Ensembles Iliana has worked with include "Kitka" Ensemble for International Folk Dances in Oslo, Norway (1999); "Da igramo" Ensemble for Balkan Folk Dances, Rochester, New York (1997 and 1998); and "Planina" Ensemble for International Folk Dances, Los Alamos, New Mexico (1997). Iliana is well known as a dance teacher at dozens of folk dance clubs in many states in the U.S. including New York, Washington DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, California, Oregon, Utah, Washington, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.
Iliana also has taught in the United States at several folk dance camps, including Mendocino and Ramblewood Balkan Camps (1996, 1997, 1998); Folklore Dance Camp, Mendocino, California (1998); Pinewoods Dance Camp, Massachusetts (2001); Mainwoods Dance Camp, Maine (1998 and 2002); and Stockton Folk Dance Camp, Stockton, California (2001 and 2002). In addition, Iliana has taught Bulgarian Folk Dances in Holland (1995 and 2002) and Norway (1999).
As a lecturer, Iliana has introduced Bulgarian Folk Art at several universities in California, including UCLA in Los Angeles (1997); UCSD at San Diego (1997); UCSB at Santa Barbara (2001); University of the Pacific in Stockton (2001 and 2002); California University of Art in San Fernando (2000). She also taught at Eastman University in Rochester, New York (1998 and 2000); as well as at several High Schools in Rochester, New York; Yakima, Washington, and in Vermont.
Iliana has had several Asian teaching tours that included Japan (2002 and 2004); Taiwan, as the first Bulgarian teacher of dance in that country, working with "Pojas Folk Dance Ensemble" in Taipei (2002 and 2004); Hong Kong for "Legacy European Folk Dance Troupe" with Artistic Director Yeung, Kwan Yu, Frederick (2002); and Indonesia at the Bali Folk Dance Camp (2004).
The dances which Iliana has taught to folk dancers in the USA, Europe, and Asia include Abdai, Alunelu, Arnaut, Batuta - Kalush, Belyanskata, Birindžika, Bučimiš, Čeleuna, Čereško, Čerkezkata, Četvorno, Čokarlana, Čukni tropni, Dafino Vino, Dânke, Daylyan Vangel, Denyovata, Devojko Mari Hubava, Dobrudžanska Rŭčenica, Dona, Dosmanovata, Drama, Dunavsko horo, Dvoino horo, Džangurica, Elbasan, Eski, Glavinižka Kopanica, Grančarsko Horo, Grančarsko ot Sumer, Hairedinski Abdai, Hora ot Draginovo, Hora ot Gela, Horo ot Opan, Hora ot Sofronievo, Horo ot Opan, Iglika, IrimenČe-PozlatenČe, Izhvurli Condak, Izručana, Ja Barzai Gemiiko, Janche Belo Janche, Jove, Kaimya, Kalčo Ivanovata, Kalmankinata, Kamen Yano, Katarinkina, Kitčice Buina Loboda, Kokonešta, Kokorevsko Horo, Kopačka, Lamba, Lazarica, Lekom igra, Lipensko Pajdučko, Lomska Rŭčenica, Lyasa, Lyavo Horo, Mališevsko, Mari Kalino, Marinkinata, Mizjisko horo, More Moma Bega, Ne Predi Rade, Oi Mario, Pajduško ot Smyadovo, Pajduško ot Hairedin, Pal Andreevata, Pažardžishka Kopanica, Petrunino, Prala Načka, Pravo Trakjisko Horo, Prela Baba, Provikna se Yana, Radi Le, Raka, Rhodopski Motivi, Rŭka, Rusa, Sačovata, Sedi Donka, Sedi Moma, Selsko Šopsko, Sevdino oro, Šareno horo, Širah, Šrokolaško Horo, Šopska Rŭčenica, Šopsko na Poyas, Što me Dade Male, Šumadia, Signa, Sin i Byal Zyumbjul, Šira, Sitna Stareška, Sitnata, Slivovanska Balavanka, Spanato Horo, Srštnatata, Stapil Dobri, Sumerska Rŭčenica, Svornato horo, Tarambevata, Tornala Mi e Enitsa, Trakjiska Rŭčenica, Trei Pâzašte, Trite Pâti, Trite Pâti from Branica, Trite Ti ot Seliminovo, Tropanka, Tsonino, Turlaško Horo, Tuškano Horo, Varnensko Horo, Velikdensko Horo, Vetrensko Horo, Zàeškata, and Žuvjatele.