TueSDAY 22 AugUST 2023 9:45pm the Scottish Storytelling Centre Edinburgh
part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023
#thistlesandsunflowers #edfringe #pomegranates
Join us for an exclusive, one-off late-night extravaganza featuring Celtic and Balkan traditional dance, music and stories from the lands of thistles, shamrocks and sunflowers.
See the trad dance duo Ariana Stoyanova and Alexis Street who brought us the ‘uplifting and merrily synergistic’ dance fusion Thistles and Sunflowers at Pomegranates 2023 Festival. They are joined once again by fellow Highland and Bulgarian folk dancers and for the first time by Scottish and Irish step dancers, including Alison Carlyle.
Marvel at the dissonant harmonies and vibrant ecstasy of the Bulgarian folk song tradition in the vocals of the American-Bulgarian Angela Rodel, the winner of the International Booker Prize 2023 for translation. Discover how the three cultures shaped by the bagpipes resemble and diverge from each other. Feel how dance and voice converge in the accompanying instrumentals of Chris Lyons and friends – the tunetastic trans-European nerds from Scotland’s own Blue Giant Orkestar.
“An amiable, gently choreographed international dance battle. No shade is thrown, only affection.” **** The Quinntessential Review
The STORY OF THE Thistles and Sunflowers SHOW
Once upon a time Edinburgh was struck by an awful pandemic and all theatres laid empty. Alexis and Ariana dreamed of dancing together on the stage. But they had to wait for their dream to come true until the theatres opened their doors for the first time since lockdown. The two dancers from the lands of thistles and sunflowers were finally reunited. Surrounded by dreamy landscapes and accompanied by a piper, they danced together for an in-person, socially-distanced audience.
Building on their first momentous encounter in the hot, face-masked summer of 2021, Scottish Highland dancer Alexis Street and Bulgarian folk dancer Ariana Stoyanova developed and choreographed their initial pandemic duet into a fusion show which marked the finale of the Thistles and Sunflowers inaugural festival weekend on 29 May 2022 – an integral part of the Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.
Find out more about the origins of Thistles and Sunflowers duet by tuning into these two interviews with Alexis and Ariana, lliyana Nedkova and Wendy Timmons
A year later, the Pomegranates Festival opening night on 28 April 2023 enabled Alexis and Ariana to revive, present and perform their extended version of the Thistles and Sunflowers show as a series of newly choreographed solos, duets and ensemble pieces drawing on the parallels between Scottish and Bulgarian folk dance traditions, regional variations and stories with live music accompaniment by Tsvetelina Likova (harp) and Robert Burns (bagpipe).
See the 30-minute highlights of the Thistles and Sunflowers show as part of the Pomegranates Triple Bill and read the four-star review by WJQuins of The Quinntessential Review.
“A fitting choice to close the opening night of the Pomegranates Festival 2023, the result is an ambiable, gently choreographed international dance battle. No shade is thrown, only affection. Moreover, it’s fascinating to see how the music, and dance of two cultures shaped by the bagpipes both resemble, and diverge from, each other. The Highland tradition, built on precision and agility contrasted with the complex footwork and subtly rhythmic Bulgarian discipline certainly attracts one’s attentions shoe-wards. Of course in the end dance is a common language, and so Stoyanova & Street’s choreography ultimately sees the assembled dancers settle into a series of interwoven progressions. Paired with their ‘opposite’ numbers and dancing to a blended rhythm, the result is an uplifting and merrily synergistic finale!”
**** The Quinntessential Review
Inspired by high critical and popular acclaim of the Thistles and Sunflowers show at the Pomegranates 2023 Festival we aspired to return to the stage before long. The dizzy heights of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023 loomed ahead coupled with the opportunity to reinvent the show by inviting special guests to join the dancers from the lands of thistles and sunflowers. Amongst the invited guests were the mighty multi-intrumentalists and self-confessed Bulgarian and Balkan music nerds of the Blue Giant Orkestar. They are led by Chris Lyons who was first seen playing the Egyptian oud instrument as part of our Pomegranates festival exhibition and screen dance launch events. It was at the launch of our show Dances with Ouds and Fiddles that the ‘pomegranate’ seeds of accompanying a future iteration of the Thistles and Sunflowers dance show were planted.
See Chris Lyons as featured in the Dances with Ouds and Fiddles show – first in the 3-minute initial sharing at our Pomegranates festival exhibition here or the 10-minute premiere above as part of our Pomegranates Festival YouTube playlist
Nurturing the seeds over spring, we wouldn’t have dared to dream that come summer, albeit very wet and overcast, we and Blue Giant Orkestar may be able to welcome the Bulgarian folk singer-songwriter Angela Rodel for her first appearance on an Edinburgh Festival Fringe stage at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. While still star-struck, shortly after the announcement on 24 May 2023 that Angela Rodel is the winner of the International Booker Prize 2023 for translation, the prestigious accolade annually shared between translator and author and for the first time awarded to a novel written into Bulgarian, i.e.Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, we approached her with the invitation to lend her powerful voice as a solo vocalist to our newly-reinvented Thistles and Sunflowers dance show on 22 August 2023 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. What better way to precede Angela and Georgi’s public conversation about Time Shelter on 23 August 2023 as part of Edinburgh International Book Festival with songs and stories, music and dance from the lands of thistles and sunflowers.
Find out more about the dissonant harmonies and vibrant ecstasy of the Bulgarian folk song tradition as reflected in Angela’s own journey from California’s garage punk bands to Bulgaria’s folklore and literature in this 12-minute documentary by the Bulgarian national broadcaster BTV.
THISTLES AND SUNFLOWERS
Dancers: Ariana Stoyanova, Alexis Street, Alison Carlyle, Desislava Davidkova, Elena Lazarova, Denitsa Stamboliyska, Mirela Bozhinova, Iveta Dulova, Gergana Stoyanova, Callie, Laris & Christina Spiridonova
Musicians: Angela Rodel, Chris Lyons, Morag Brown, Frazer Watson and Anoukia Nistor
Choreographers: Ariana Stoyanova and Alexis Street
Sonic Arrangement: Chris Lyons and Angela Rodel
Curators/Producers: Wendy Timmons, Iliyana Nedkova and Daniela Dimova-Yaneva
Videographer: Barrie Barretto
Stage support: Roddy Simpson
Curatorial support: Daniel Abercrombie
Co-commissioned and produced by the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland and the Bulgarian Cultural and Educational Centre Scotland
Supported by the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh, The Wee Hub and the Edinburgh International Book Festival
The world premiere at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on 29 May 2022 was one of the highlights of Thistles and Sunflowers Festival as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. The dance fusion was then revived, performed and recorded on 28 April 2023 as part of the Triple Bill at the Pomegranates Festival of International Traditional Dance 2023. The initial research funding was provided as part of Thistles and Sunflowers Festival by Tasgadh Fund for Traditional Arts devolved from Creative Scotland and managed by Fèisean nan Gàidheal. This third iteration on 22 August 2023 is part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023.
#thistlesandsunflowers #edfringe #pomegranates