Choreographers and Directors Kosta Karakashyan and Stephanie Handjiiska talk about their dance film ‘Glance from the Edge’ screened at the Bulgarian Cultural Institue

Located in southeastern Europe and occupying the eastern part of the Balkans, Bulgaria is renowned for its picturesque natural landscapes. Said to be the oldest country in Europe, the country has retained its name since it was initially established in the 7th century. Europe’s second largest river, the Danube defines its border with Romania. Inspired by the cultural richness of their homeland to create a dance film exploring the stories of 6 protagonists across a tapestry of Bulgarian landscapes, choreographers and directors Kosta Karakashyan and Stephanie Handjiiska present Glance from the Edge. Screened at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute on Thursday 7th April, the duo tell us more about how the event went, and their plans for screening the film at a later date!

Hi Kosta and Stephanie, your dance film ‘Glance from the Edge’ was screened at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute on Thursday 7th April. How did the event go and what was the response to it?

Kosta: The event was wonderful – it was sold out with an incredible turnout and we had an hour-long discussion with our guests afterward! We are very thankful that the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in London and Svetla Dionissieva extended this invitation to us. When we created the film we imagined it as unleashing the beautiful secrets of Bulgaria to a wider international audience, and we were so happy to do just that with the multicultural audience we met in London.

Stephanie: Evenings like these really make us feel that all of the hard work creating dance films is worth it! Creating independent dance films is very time and effort consuming and can feel very lonely at times.  The audience was so wondeful and engaged on the 7th of April it gave me so much power to keep creating. 

Glance at the Edge is a poetic journey of six individuals swept across a tapestry of Bulgarian landscapes and an exploration of relationships, place, and belonging. What inspired you both to explore these themes further?

Kosta: For me, the film tackles an important part of every person’s life which is growing up and tangling yourself in and out of different sorts of relationships in your twenties. We have a group of very curious characters who are friends, some are lovers, and others turn on each other, but they are all a little bit confused and eager to find their footing in the world. It’s a coming-of-age story that is pliable to different mediums and locales, so this was one interpretation of it that happens to be staged in Bulgaria and told through dance.

Stephanie: Everything that Kosta said, with the topic of coming-of-age in Bulgaria. As young people, we have a big desire to make our country better, and as we grow, we rethink the very well-known landscapes of Bulgaria through dance. 

Kosta and Stephanie, you both co-directed and co-choreographed the film. How have you both worked together to create the final piece?

Stephanie: Kosta and I work as a team, helping each other to play to our strengths. We complement each other and we also bounce ideas off each other. We also take responsibility to push things forward and really share the weight of producing and creating. 

What have you learned/taken away from creating the film?

Kosta: The film was a big learning process for me as a creator. We worked with dancers who were very open to collaboration so it was really about how to best navigate that process and yield the creative potential in the best possible way. Working with all of these locations was also challenging and rewarding as we had to figure out different ways to make sure the work stays alive and site-specific. Something my dance film mentor Gabri Christa always talked about with me is that you can always tell when a piece of screendance is just a dance choreographed in a studio and shipped off to be filmed in the desert. We wanted our work to be deeper, so we really took the time to let the locations speak to us! It’s something I learned that you can never have enough of. The more you sit with a space, the more of its magic it will disperse on you.

For prospective audiences, what can they expect when watching the film?

Stephanie: People can expect a dance film showing 6 individuals against a backdrop of beautiful Bulgarian locations. 

Kosta: They will witness a plethora of new and exciting locations that might inspire them to explore their own habitat through a new lens.

What would you like for audiences to take away from the film?

Stephanie: We hope people will take away the idea that finding your identity and place in the world is a process, and passing through it can take many forms, some stages will be unpleasant. But we need to dig deep and find ourselves. 

Are there any plans to showcase the film at a later date?

Kosta: The film is still applying to festivals, but we are definitely looking for its next life afterward. We would like to make it open to a wider international audience in some way. Stay tuned!

Stephanie: We are currently in conversation with a couple of different partners in terms of dissemination for the film and we will be able to announce once we have things finalized. We hope the film will be able to reach a wide audience 🙂

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

Glance from the Edge was screened on Thursday 7th April 2022 at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute. To find out more about the film, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop