Three years ago the world ballet community lost Prof. Emil Dimitrov. We honor the memory of the Founder of the first in the world International Ballet Competition Varna and president of Foundation IBC-Varna. Rest in peace!
Professor Emil Dimitrov‘s activities in the second half of the 20th century
have had considerable impact on the development and establishment of
the Bulgarian ballet’s international prestige, most notably with the organization
of the biannual Varna International Ballet Competition and the
artistic event “Anastas Petrov”.
After obtaining two master degrees from the Bulgarian State Conservatory
“Pancho Vladigerov” – one in musical pedagogy (1951) and one in directing
(1954) – Emil Dimitrov went on to enjoy a successful musical career.
-As director of the State Symphonic Orchestra in Pernik (1954-1957),
he conducted over 60 concerts and wrote a similar number of published
essays; for 23 years he was also lecturer in musical analysis at the
Bulgarian State Conservatory “Pancho Vladigerov” (1966-1989) and
Associate Professor since 1981. As head of the departments “Opera
Theatres” (1961-1964) and “International Competitions” (1964-1969)
within the Ministry of Culture, Emil Dimitrov participated in the organization
of the first 6 editions of the International Competition for Young Opera
Singers (1961- 1976), which contributed to the recognition of a number of
opera stars from Europe, Asia and America.
Emil Dimitrov was also one of the founders and directors of the two editions
of the International Competition for Luthiers, the first one in Sofia
(1983) and the second one in Kazanlak (1987).
In 1964, Emil Dimitrov became Director of the first Varna International
Ballet Competition which opened a new era in the discovery and promotion
of young ballet talents worldwide and which for 48 years has been contributing
to the rise of a constellation of ballet stars from all over the world.
The greatest contribution of Varna International Ballet Competition has
been to make Bulgaria actively a part of the world ballet scene. The Varna
Competition has become a model in terms of the regulations and manner
of holding the event that has been imitated by other international ballet
competitions in Russia, the USA, Japan, Finland and France.
Since the founding of Varna International Ballet Competition, Emil
Dimitrov’s interest in ballet gradually prevailed over all his other interests
and in addition to the Competition he focused on other initiatives linked
with ballet. Concurrently with the Competition, he also organized the
International Summer Ballet Academy (since 1977), the International Ballet Teachers Seminar (1979) and a number of international symposia on issues relevant to classical and contemporary choreography.
Among those, the International Summer Ballet Academy is the most significant,
as it allows young dancers to be taught by world famous ballet teachers
from different countries, thereby adding prestige to the Competition.
The combination of the two is deservedly referred to as the “Varna Summer
In order to preserve the tradition, in 1992 Emil Dimitrov founded
Foundation “Varna International Ballet Competition” together with others
committed to the idea and remained Chairman until 2011. The main task of
the Foundation is to preserve the tradition of holding the Competition and,
for the past 20 years, it has taken care of the organization of the event,
inclusive of funding, through sponsors from Bulgaria and abroad. Since
2004, the Ministry of Culture and Varna Municipality have been involved
Another initiative of his, which received active support from UNESCO,
was the establishment, in 2007 in Moscow, of a Federation of International
Ballet Competitions to which Acad. Prof. Yuri Grigorovich was elected
President and Emil Dimitrov its Vice President.
Thus a person with no training in ballet has, through his work, contributed
not only to the development of the Bulgarian ballet school, ballet teaching
and choreography but also to Bulgaria’s international recognition as an
important center of ballet.
The glorious success and numerous initiatives are the result of Associate
Professor Emil Dimitrov’s daily and dedicated hard work. But just how
much strength and patience were required for all this went unnoticed by
the non-professionals and the audience. Mr. Dimitrov was not willing to talk
about it. Nothing could change his dedication to ballet. That is why he was
often called the “Knight of the Ballet Competition”.
For only a Knight could work for the prestige of our country’s ballet with
such outstanding determination and personal commitment for almost half
Prof. Aneliya Yaneva, PhD