Ventzi and Zoya Sotirov
Ventzi Sotirov and his wife, Zoya Sotirova, moved to the United States after ten years with the ensemble Pirin. The Bulgarian State Ensemble, Pirin, has thrilled audiences on five continents and in more than 60 countries with its 75 dancers and musicians.
Ventzi is a native of Sandanski and a graduate of the Institute of Choreography in Sofia, Bulgaria. He has been dancing since the age of seven when he was a member of a Sandanski children's ensemble. He danced with the Pirin National Ensemble for 11 years. Ventzi was voted "No. 1 Ethnic Dancer" for four years in national competitions of professional dancers in Bulgaria. He also taught Bulgarian dancing for children and arranged choreography for amateurs aspiring to enter choreography institutes.
Ventzi presents exciting dances from all six ethnographic regions of Bulgaria: Shope, Thrace, Rhodope, North Bulgaria, Dobrudja, and his native Pirin (Macedonia).
He plays tupan and tarambuka and has taught workshops in these instruments. Since moving to the Chicago area in 1991, Ventzi has taught at many groups, workshops and camps including Ethnic Dance Chicago, Door County Folk Festival, Balkanske Igre's Reunion Festival, Madison Folk Ball, Santa Barbara's Ethnic Music and Dance Symposium, Illini Folk Dance Weekend, and Buffalo Gap Music and Dance Camp. He has also taught workshops in Japan and Europe.
Zoya Sotirova is a native of Strumešnica, Bulgaria, and has been singing since she was a child. She first learned Bulgarian folk songs from her mother. For 13 years, Zoya was a singer with the choir of the Pirin National Ensemble. Zoya was also a featured soloist on Radio Sofia and Pirin National Ensemble recordings. Her lovely soprano voice, her professional experience, and her ability to master all of the Bulgarian vocal styles led to her selection as a soloist for a special "Nostalgia" program on Bulgarian National Television.
While Zoya sings and teaches songs from all six ethnographic regions of Bulgaria and her native Pirin, she is a specialist of the Macedonian style, with its intricate ornamentations.
Zoya's classes begin with warm-up exercises for the voice and stretches. She gives historical background for and translations of the songs she teaches and performs. Since arriving in the United States in 1993, Zoya's engagements have included Old Town School of Folk Music (Faculty), St. Louis Folk Dance Weekend, Balkanske Igre Reunion Festival, Madison Folk Ball, Polish Highlanders Festival, various World Cup functions, and at Taste of Romania.
In addition to her vocal talents, Zoya also is an experienced seamstress and costume designer.
Dances Ventzi has taught include Ajdarovo, Arap, Arnaud, Bebelekovsko, Berkovsko, Boalijsko, Boina, Bučimiš, Čerkezko, Čestoto, Četvorka, Četvorno, Čičovata, Corvadžijsko, Daičevo, Damjaninata, Danke, Deninka, Dobrozanski Râčenik, Drama, Džangurica, Dubovansko, Eleno Mome, Gajda Vasi, Gankino, Ginka, Gingurica, Gorbetčijska, Gorno Oriahovsko, Grančarsko, Graovsko, Haskovsko, Ihtimansko, Jucijak, Kasapsko, Katerino Mome, Kjustendilska Râčenica, Koinali, Kolarovsko Horo, Kopanica, Kračmarsko, Krivo Plovdivsko Horo, Krivoto, Lovečko Horo, Medgdansko, Nebeta, Neda Voda, Nevesto More, Novogradsko, Ograždensko, Oj Prirodo, Opas, Panagjurska Râčenica, Petrunino, Pogreci Paulina, Predojsko, Progresi Pavlina, Rhodope Dances, Sandansko, Serfimovsko Svornoto, Sirto, Sitnata, Šopska, Šopsko, Stoj Jovane, Svatbarsko, Svištovsko, Tarnovsko, Trakajska Dvoika-Chapraz, Trkaijsko, Tri Stupki, Trite Pâti, Tsaremirsko, Varnenski, Velikovo, Zamruknalo Momiče, Zaplakala Pirin, and Zborenka.