Petur Gorgiev Iliev was born in Gabra (Šop region), Bulgaria, into a family of musicians and dancers. Petur, is the son of a dance choreographer and singer of traditional songs. His father, Georgi Iliev, a noted musician and dancer, perpetuated traditional Bulgarian music prior to its commercialization. Petur's mother was also a noted singer of traditional ballads. At the age of 12, Petur participated in his father's amateur dance ensemble, Prosveta, listened to his mother, noted singer of traditional ballads, listened to the kaval tunes of his maternal grandfather, and absorbed the customs and lore as practiced in Gabra (close to Sofia).
From 1979 to 1982, Petur studied at the National Choreography Academy of Bulgaria, and from 1982 to 1983, he was with Trakia, the Bulgarian Ensemble for Folk Songs and Dance. He joined the Bulgarian army and for a year in 1983, danced with the National Ensemble of the Bulgarian Army. From 1983 to 1986, he studied at the Bulgarian National Institute of Choreography.
From 1986 to 1991, Petur was with the Philip Kutev State Ensemble for Folk Songs and Dances. In 1988, Petur began working as assistant to the chief choreographer in creating the dance portion to a totally new repertoire for the entire ensemble. To produce the latter, Petur undertook several ethnographic expeditions into Bulgarian provinces to collect and document traditional dances in an effort to understand how these dances might accurately be used in ensemble works. Also in 1988, Petur became the Director of the Chervena Zvezda, a children's group, and Red Star, in Sofia, a troupe of 40 children. He was an instructor at the Institute of Higher Theatrical Arts, Sofia, for a year beginning in 1989.
In July of 1990, Petur left the Kutev ensemble to teach Bulgarian folk dance throughout the United States and Canada. During 1990 and 1991, he conducted more that fifty workshops. He currently resides in San Jose, California. Petur has taught Bulgarian dance extensively since coming to this country. He works as a dance teacher in a Magnet school in San Jose.
In 1997 Petur was chosen to lead Westwind of northern California into the next century. Petur has extensive training in a variety of dance forms including Balkan, Hungarian, Russian, as well as American idioms such as Tap. In his first two seasons Iliev has set three new choreographies for Westwind, and has contracted for an additional four. For his first Home Season, Petur brought musicians of international renown to the stage with Westwind, as well as guest performers, and his choreography, "Gypsy Fire," broke new ground.
Since 1999, his father, Giorgi, has joined him in giving joint workshops at the Slavonic Cultural Center in San Francisco, California, and the East European Folklife Center in Berkeley, California.
Dances Peter has taught include Bebelekovsko Horo, Bulgarski Narodni Tanci, Čerkezko, Četvorno Horo, Divotinsko Horo, Djangurica, Dunavsko, Erkečko Horo, Gankino Horo, Kalipetrovska Rŭka, Kukuneško Horo, Liasa, Liliano Mome, Malakonarska Rŭčenica, Nedilo Nedilo, Novoselsko Horo, Odeno Oro, Opas, Plovdivska Kopanica, Rŭka, Sborinka, Sevdelino Mome, Shira, Silistrenski Opas, Šira, Sitnata, Skudrinka (Džangurica), Sofijsko Ūopsko Horo, Spiro, Svištovsko Horo, Svornato, Trifonova Rŭčenica, Trite Pŭti, and Trunska Lesa.