A lot of acting - one role. That of a professional.
In addition to the rigorous academic curriculum of the students, the American College of Sofia is known and revered for the extra-curricular opportunities it provides for its pupils. ACS President Dr. Ewing puts it succinctly: “High GPA is important and valued, but it is just one of the aspects of what we consider a meaningful and successful educational experience. To us, the talents and interests of our students are equally important for their lifelong success.” The performances that Boris Pankin, Director of the Performing Arts Program, and his team of professionals put on each year with ACS students illustrate this statement beautifully.
Actively engaging with art of any kind helps youngsters to develop the ability to express themselves, to explore hidden talents, and to develop as individuals. Moreover, during the busy but rewarding rehearsals, students build social contacts and friendships for life. For several years performances of the Musical Program have been licensed school adaptations of the original Broadway materials, which hardly yield to the complexity and scale of production. Sometimes, after a premiere of a musical at ACS, parents stop by director Boris Pankin and his team to share their admiration of the unsuspected talents of the young actors, singers, and dancers which often extend beyond the parents’ expectations.
“Of course, every parent will unequivocally enjoy the their child’s performance, but their eyes betray that they have never realized what their ACS student was capable of. They never expected a kid could bring out such things,” said Kristian Popov, a choir conductor and music director of the school musical.
Over the years, under Boris Pankin’s leadership, what used to be the musical and drama clubs, choir singing and dancing after school activities gradually evolved into an almost professional program in performing arts which, in addition to immersing students in the artistic atmosphere and dynamics, develops their sense of art and helps them balance the load of the demanding curriculum.
Many alumni who have been active participants in ACS musical productions, Bulgarian and English drama, vocal and dance performances continue to devote time and energy to the arts, which they cultivated their love for while at the College. The letters they send to the Performing Arts team confirm this, and former students excitedly admit they have continued their creative path, although non-professionally, at the university, as well, where they otherwise focus their time and efforts on rigorous academic disciplines. What is more, the traits and abilities they have developed while being active with the arts programs have helped them to shape themselves as erudite personalities valuable to their communities in Western universities.
Asked about the challenges in working with students, Anastasiya Nedelcheva, Director of the Dance Program, says: “For me, one of them is to immerse the students in a professional environment during the rehearsals and not ask of them to be professionals.” Marian Bachev, Director of the Bulgarian Drama Club, adds: “We show them the attitude, and they have to take that responsibility. As we are all professionals, we show them how to work in a professional environment. It lifts them up because they understand it is not a joke, but quite the opposite. Since we do want to have a product at the end, this calls for responsibility throughout the whole process.”
“The idea is not to turn children into artists, dancers, instrumentalists, singers, but to put them in the shoes of people with those professions so that they become art fans for life,” Boris Pankin says. This applies to all programs where working with classical instruments, choir singing, acting, or contemporary dance stimulate students to think creatively, develop their artistic flair, and enrich their personalities.
“I don’t think a person can be well-rounded without art, no matter where life takes them afterwards,” says Milena Tsolova, ACS Choir Accompanist & Instrumental Program Advisor.
Do not miss the range of breathtaking stage performances by ACS students in the spring of 2019! The Classical Music Concert on March 27 will mark the beginning of the cycle. In April, we are expecting “Thank you, Kind Spirit” by Tennessee Williams by the English drama and “Aesop: The Fox and the Grapes” by Guilherme Figueiredo by the Bulgarian drama. Bulgarian Premiere of “Les Miserables” is in May. The performing arts will also shine during the traditional Arts Fest on June 8, when you will also be able to watch “The Game” dance.