Interview with Milena Davidova – artist and dance practice teacher.
Would you please introduce yourself briefly?
My name is Milena Davidova. I am an Arabist by profession, my undergraduate degree is Arabic, MA is Arabian social studies and my PhD dissertation is also in Arabian social studies on topic “The female dance in Egypt and Morocco”. I have a dance school named “Alima”. Many years I have been teaching there Arabic dances, and through them I reached what I do now. I work with women, I’ve created my personal style that is closest to the tribal, tribal fusion. It’s very stylized theatrical dance based on Arabic dances, but I am introducing also elements of everything inside, for example elements of some Chinese practices with fans, martial arts, Arabic dances, Indian and Pakistani dances, in general everything I’ve encountered and I like. This dance gives me complete freedom to express myself and to create. This is what I do.
I’m teaching not only dance, but a more different and necessary philosophy about the stressful modern society and all requirements it imposes according to me. It is a philosophy of femininity. How to recognize and feel comfortable and confident being a woman. I also enjoy the happiness and the opportunity to pass my knowledge to students from Sofia University, who are studying Arabic. However, there things are directed more profiled to the Arabic dances and their history. I perform on theatrical stage, on club stage and on all kind of stages. This is what I do.
Can you explain more detailed about these dances of yours that you do?
It all started with Arabic dances. They make you not only more feminine, but they also help you accept the way you are. They help you like yourself and so for me this is the wealth of all these women practices, because they’re purely female. Dances that I’ve currently been practicing, have several advantages according to me – one is that they are individual, solo and you don’t need a partner, i.e. you don’t need to go through the shock of your boyfriend or husband not wanting to come with you to the dance lessons and trying to make him come by force, which is a great stress and even I have seen broken couples because of such things.
Another advantage is that it doesn’t matter how you look and I think this issue with the outer look is one of the main depressing things about dances. Often when you go to something more jazzy, some kind of modern ballet – of course, these are all great styles, every dance is beautiful. But when you go to something like this, more often you notice exactly the type of girls who look more like a model, and in our classes every woman can stand in front of the mirror and gradually start to accept herself. To me this is the first step towards starting to like yourself or to any change you want to make. Because for me to deny something that is yours, to say – I don’t want those 20 kilos or 10 kilos, or I don’t want my belly, I do not want I don’t know what, you first have to accept it, to start loving it, to let it become a part of you. And then to consciously let it go, that’s my philosophy and this is what I teach in my classes.
And the whole idea of this dance is not just to learn some moves, technically, to make wonders on stage, but to dedicate our soul, to invest from ourselves. For example, we are doing the same choreography, but every woman is totally different, so I see who she is. Who she is and what she wants to tell me with this dance. That’s why I teach such a dance, which is a non-restrictive one, it doesn’t say: “These are Arabic dances and you won’t do this and that.” This is a dance, my East indeed, which is a compilation of all possible elements of the East plus the very deep symbolism of the Eastern dances, especially Middle Eastern and North African. We let the fundament of these movements into the body and our body begins to express emotions through them. For me personally, dance is really nothing if it is just technique. It may sound terrible, even offensive to some great dancers, but if there is no soul in it, there is nothing. Because of this I have surrounded myself at the moment with some of my wonderful students who have trust in me, which I don’t misuse, and with them I exchange experience. It is not just about to be a teacher of these people, some kind of a leader, but rather to share your experience. I stand in front, I show, but all this is experience of mine, which I’ve gained through many years of work and I’ve created something between dance, magic-meditative ritual and a lot of philosophy for one of the possible ways of life.
Wonderful! Hopefully more women will have such an awareness as you, because it is really so valuable and so important!
Let it be! There are students for every teacher. But at the moment I’m at such a level of my development that I don’t really want overcrowded groups, I don’t want any queues in front of the hall. I like to have in my groups handful of people, who trust me and allow me to give them everything I can. Because for a person, who has something to give, it is very important to have someone to take it.
For more inspirations by Milena Davidova, you can check her website.