Almost all people who made a name in this world had to explore the world to achieve their goals and dreams. Some of them realized what their dream should be only after transporting themselves to another part of the world which offered them inspiration and opened a new path to tread on.
Katya Tosheva, a dancer born and raised in Bulgaria, became aware of her destiny only after moving to India. She was an engineer before becoming an artist. But she realised that ‘life is elsewhere’ and moved to India to learn more about Indian classical dance.
Katya says everything started with yoga. The turning point in life happened when she met her yoga guru Tihomir Mihaylov, a Bulgarian who studied yoga in India.
Mihaylov used to tell stories about India and little by little Katya fell in love with the country. She was fascinated by the music, dance, the colourful life, the nature and the cuisine. The stories fuelled her desire to go and experience all the wonders she heard from her master.
Katya was in India two years ago for a month. She visited Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. But she understood that one month wasn’t enough. It was like opening the menu in a restaurant and see how many choices you have, she said.
“I decided that next time I should be in India for longer duration. Now I am here for three months and I am sure – I will keep coming back every year.”
Katya says her transformation from an engineer to a dancer was totally unplanned. “I never thought that I would be an artist. But five years ago something happened and my life changed completely.”
Katya stepped into the shoes of a dancer by starting to learn Bollywood dance. But soon she realised that it was not enough. Then she discovered Bharatanatyam and felt like it was what she has been looking for.
After an year Katya quit her “normal” job in the office. “It wasn’t an easy decision because I knew that I will no more receive my salary every month. But I am happy to have the support of my family and my life partner.”
Katya received her Bharatanatyam training in Bulgaria. She has been practicing Bharatanatyam for three years under Meena Patalenska, a Bulgarian who started the dancing school Nataraja.
In Bulgaria Katya also had the opportunity to attend some Kathak workshops with Cristina Zanni from Greece and Vidha and Abhimanyu Lal.
She started learning Odissi a month ago. “I have always liked this style, but in my country there are no Odissi teachers. During my stay in India I hope to have a few Kathak lessons too.”
During her Bulgarian days, Katya had performed with her teacher and senior student Marina Koshutova at events supported by Indian Embassy and East – West Indological foundation.
She is grateful to her teachers for shaping her the way she is now. Her tribal fusion teacher Milena Davidova is Bulgarian and she helped Katya discover the dancer within her.
“She gave me the strength to face my bad and good sides and to enjoy not only dance but life itself.”
Katya grasped the structure of North Indian classical music with the help of Stefan Hristov who trains her in North Indian tala(rhythm). Stefan is a tabla player and disciple of Ted de Jong and pandit Yogesh Samsi.
Apart from her gurus, Katya is also grateful to her partner of 11 years who supports in her endeavors. “Without his help and love I couldn’t be the person who I am now.”
Katya is currently staying in Sanjali Centre for Odissi dance in Bangalore where she could watch how everybody is practicing and how much efforts they put on their performances.
Apart from dance, Katya is very much interested in yoga and classical music. She is in love with the spicy food and often cook Indian dishes at home. “I love coconut and mango but unfortunately they are not available in my country.”
Katya is very much excited about the Indian way of life. She likes the noisy streets, the temples, the rangolis and the lights in front of the houses, women who wear flowers in their hair, the beautiful and colourful sarees.
She also found many new friends in India. “One of my best friends is Praveena Prasad, who is also Bharatanatyam dancer from Kerala. She showed me how hospitable an Indian family can be.”
In her free time, Katya volunteers for giving care for refugees and kids without parents.
Katya’s journey from a land located ‘somewhere between the east and the west’ to the hot bed of culture has been truly amazing and inspirational. She is looking forward to spread this magic of dance and to bring more people into it. Because,she thinks, dance makes one’s soul happy.
By Sreejith Kamalanayanan