Boyko Dossev, who has previously choreographed for FBP, is joining the resident company as a dancer and choreographer this season. We sat down with Boyko to learn a bit about his background, artistic philosophy, and more…
Hello Boyko! Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell us a little about your training?
I completed my training at the National Ballet School in Sofia, Bulgaria. I was very fortunate to be taught by an artist that was the embodiment of the Renaissance man. As a dancer, he was the prince. As a teacher, he is the living encyclopedia of ballet. My training is based on the Vaganova method, but in my dancing, I have been influenced by the French method as well. This is largely because at the age of 17, I left Bulgaria to dance in France. After that, I danced in Germany as well.
You’re quite the globetrotter! What was your transition into your professional career like?
My transition into the professional career was quite a shock to me. I was 17, completed two years of training in just one year at school and was getting ready to join Le Jeune Ballet de France in Paris, France. This company was one of the most prestigious ballet companies for young dancers in the world at the time and I was very fortunate to be chosen to join it. The shock came on multiple levels. First it was cultural. Moving and adjusting to Paris was not simple. Although it is the most beautiful city in the world, I had difficulties integrating there. Then came the professional shock. This was the first time that I had to really fight for my roles and not just expect them because I was hard working and talented. Also, coming from a Vaganova school, where everything is much slower, it was really hard to adjust to the fast and bravura French technique. Nevertheless, this experience was important because I was exposed to new , style, dance, and choreography and it was when I started to grow as an artist.
It sounds like you’ve learned how to adapt to new settings quite well. So what has it been like coming from Boston Ballet to our much smaller company at FBP?
There are no small stages and no small companies. Yes, when talking about the physical size there are differences, but these are differences based on resources and not integrity, quality, innovation, or abilities. The audience is the same. The work is the same. Our goal is always to be the best we can be and to enrich our audience and our communities. These days, the competition is stronger than ever. Everywhere there are great dancers and great companies- doesn’t matter the size. What I love about FBP, though, is that as a smaller company it has the potential to grow big. It has the energy and the artistic integrity to further develop the art and dance scenes in Rhode Island and to become an influential, innovative art institution not only in New England, but in the States as well.
And we are so happy to have dancers like you to bring all of your artistic influence to Providence and help us grow. How has dancing in all of these different environments affected you as an artist?
Yes, I am very fortunate to be influenced by so many cultures. As a child I grew up in Mozambique, Africa. That’s where everything started for me as a dancer and a choreographer. Later on, the Russian, French, German, and American cultures played a big role in my formation. Living in places like Paris, Dresden, Hamburg, Boston and D.C helped me see how small the world has become, especially the ballet world. I feel so fortunate and very grateful for this gift. One thing that I want to say here though, is that even gifts come at a certain price. The price I need to pay for this incredible gift is that I am far from all my close friends and that I miss them all very much.
Boyko with Giovanni Di Palma in Dresden, 2000. “Phaedra” Ballet by Stela Korljan
“Over Again” choreography by Boyko Dossev, performed in Greece.
The sacrifices we make for ballet! Certain works that speak to us make it all worthwhile, though. Can you recall any moments like this in your career so far?
Although I consider all my roles and experiences in ballet a highlight I think the true one is always the next one. Despite this, I feel very fortunate to have worked closely with John Neumeier, who has become my mentor as a leader and a choreographer.
Dossev with Hélène Bouchet in John Neumeier’s “Sylvia”at the International Ballet Competition in Varna where Dossev won Gold in 2002.
Speaking of choreography…you’ve choreographed for FBP before and you will be creating a new ballet for our Chatterbox Series this season. What is your process like?
For me everything starts with the music. I think that the music is the base on which we can build upon. Use it as a guideline, reference, and an important medium through which we can communicate more than what the movement sometimes can. I also love the creative process and working with the dancers to explore new possibilities and true collaboration. I believe strongly in work that is based on partnership. I like to challenge my dancers and I like when they challenge me. It is only when we have a partnership and we become open to ideas that WE can truly innovate.
What a lovely and logical approach! Let’s talk education. You have a degree in Communications from Northeastern. Juggling a professional ballet career with schoolwork is extremely demanding. Why was this so important to you?
I think there are two main reasons. The first is that my studies there opened a new perspective on how I see the world around me, our art form and particularly its future. I feel, in the ballet world we are still stuck in the past century when it comes to organizational culture, communication, and structure.Ballet needs to evolve, we need to evolve with it as well. The second reason this degree was so important to me is because I found something else that I’m very passionate about, something that inspires me to be a better human being, leader, dancer, teacher, and choreographer: this is the art of communication, and it is also what we do as dancers.
Boyko with Boston Ballet principal dancer Kathleen Breen Combes at Northeastern graduation earlier this year
Very true. So when you’re not dancing, what are you doing?
When I’m not dancing, I’m teaching and choreographing. Also, I love spending time reading, listening to music, being with family and friends and making my dreams come true. There are so many things to do and so little time!
Thank you so much, Boyko!
Catch one of FBP’s newest dancers, Boyko Dossev, onstage this fall. Tickets and more information here.