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Today is the premiere of "Anna Karenina" at the Sofia Opera

Prima Ballerina Marta Petkova: I am learning on the go how to be the artistic director of the ballet

Bulgarians should be happy that this girl has decided to stay here, says choreographer Leo Mujic

Photo: Facebook/marta.petkova

Days ago the prima ballerina of the National Opera Marta Petkova celebrated her 37th birthday with new roles - both in life and in art. As of October 2022, the star has accepted the post of artistic director of the Sofia Opera Ballet - a decision that has alarmed her loyal fans. Had Marta, at the peak of her career, decided to give up dance to accept this post, ballet lovers wondered? Marta Petkova was quick to reassure them, "I will keep dancing! ". A few months later she added:

"I came into this venture of mine quite suddenly, with almost no preparation, I am still learning at the moment, I didn't have a project plan with premieres planned. Things happen on the go."

Marta Petkova and Tsetso Ivanov in the ballet One of her ideas as artistic director is to introduce the tradition of the French Grand Opera, where new prima ballerinas are presented ceremoniously.

"I find it very nice to present the new étoiles in a stylish event that is shared with both the audience and the artists, perhaps a kind of surprise," explains the director of the Sofia Opera Ballet.

So far, her new role as administrator has not affected her artistic career. Even now she is about to premiere the role of Anna Karenina in the ballet of the same name by the world-famous choreographer Leo Muhich.

Marta Petkova and Nikola Hadjitanev. Photo: Svetoslav NikolovMarta Petkova ranks among the greatest Bulgarian ballerinas of all time, but her start in the art of ballet is somewhat paradoxical

As a child she was rejected by strict teachers, followers of the Russian school of ballet. Despite being graceful, musical and talented in dance, 9-year-old Martha was turned down by the admissions committee at the National School of Ballet and Dance, not once, but twice!

"I went just like that - without any preparation. I got to the third round and couldn't handle the 'improvisation' element," she says. I was very young, I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a dancer or not. But I was upset that I wasn't admitted."

Marta took ballet lessons, auditioned again and... was rejected again. This time for a medical reason - at the obligatory examination, the physicians found that the little girl's back wasn't strong enough for her to dance.

Perhaps to the intervention of Marta's father - Petko Petkov - Bulgaria owes the birth (and not only literally) of this great ballet star. It should be recalled that Petko Petkov was a famous Bulgarian pop musician, founder of the band "Tramway N5", at that time at the height of his fame. Her mother Annie was a professional dancer in the Ensemble of Construction Troops.Marta with her parents and her sister GretaExasperated, her father went to complain to the Minister of Culture Georgi Kostov - his friend. Then he met with the principal of the ballet school, who scolded him. It turned out that Marta would have been accepted without his advocacy, as she was one of the first on the waiting list.

And so, in 1995, young Marta Petkova entered the National Ballet School in the class of Rumyana Atanasova. Her talent soon stood out and in 1999 she was a finalist at the International Ballet Competitions in Tallinn - Estonia and Luxembourg.

2002 was a good year for the young ballerina - she received the Grand Prix at the international festival "Fivizziano" /Italy/ and was appointed to the Sofia Opera and Ballet company - at that time she was only 16 years old. Five years later she became a prima ballerina.Over the next 16 years, she danced all over the world, performing the leading roles from the entire classical repertoire, among which Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Sylphide, Le Corsaire, Paquita , but also in ballets by George Balanchine, William Forsyth, as well as in  The Firebird and Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky's music and choreographed by Mikhail Fokin, and many others.

She is currently preoccupied with preparations for Leo Mujic's production, as she has to dance the title role while also fulfilling her many new duties as Artistic Director.

"Marta is working for all she's worth. The way her feet move, the way her body looks, how expressive she is... - Croatian choreographer Leo Mujic never stops praising her. - Her dedication to her profession is remarkable. This is a top-class ballerina. You Bulgarians should be happy that this girl has decided to stay here. And I don't say that as a compliment.

Luckily for the Bulgarian audiences, Marta Petkova has no intention to leave the country for now. "I love dancing in Bulgaria the most", she says.

Photos: Facebook/marta.petkova, Ani Collier, Svetoslav Nikolov, Facebook/Государственный Кремлёвский Дворец
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