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Scholarship Recipients

Iroquois Springs 2015: Mariya Ivanova (Lillie Cooper Scholarship)

By Mariya Ivanova, Winter 2015-16
Mariya Ivanova

Mariya Ivanova

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Occupation: During the day when not dancing and listening to Balkan music, I teach little, little people (ages 2-4) at a Montessori preschool.

Connection to Balkan music/dance: Balkan music and dance pop up at the great, surprising times when my friends reach out to tell me that a band is playing at a Brooklyn bar, at the unpredictable and delightful Raya Brass parties and during Golden Fest. Most intensely, I get my yearly, almost-fix during the summer when I return home to Southeastern Bulgaria, a town called Dimitrovgrad, where my family runs a folk dance ensemble called Zvezditza. With the group, I dance and play music almost every day in preparation for a concert or a folk festival.

Number of times at Balkan camp: This was my first camp!

Studied at camp: I took intermediate tapan, beginner tambura, and dance classes and played with Bitov ensemble. Looking forward now to learning more!

Memorable moment at camp: Camp was a series of scenes and experiences that surprised and touched and impressed. The friendly new faces who were eager to share their passion for everything Balkan; the first time the Bulgarian musicians played a familiar tune that immediately welcomed me back home; the Chichovo tune that was just like the one my dad and I loved to dance to; the moment when my dear friend gave me a warm hug and told me that she was at the dance hall during the Bulgarian set only to make sure that if and when the music stirs nostalgic joy and memories, she will be there to support me; the Blender Band and the wonderful people I met through it! Our serious-goofy practices and oh-such-fun performance!! And the precious times when so many friends gave me hugs and spoke a kind word, especially at the last day of camp, when I was so very in need of sleep and so very heartbroken to see that the week of this homelike, warm, fun, joyful magic was over. Thank you all for a most beautiful, touching, hospitable and spirited camp!!!

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