Founder, CEO, and Artistic Director
Hanna Bondarewska is the Artistic Director and Founder of the Ambassador Theater and was recently seen in They Don't Pay? We Won't Pay! by Dario Fo as Antonia, Smartphones as Maria, Protest as Stankova, Death of Tintagiles as Ygraine and in Summer at Nohant as George Sand. “For Hanna Bondarewska, the path to world peace not only exists, she is walking it — one artistic endeavor at a time.” – The Washington Diplomat.
Hanna Bondarewska is a native of Warsaw, Poland and was trained in the Polish and American schools of drama. She founded the Ambassador Theater because she believes in the power of theater to change the world for the better through collaboration and artistry. By bringing together theater and diplomacy she hopes to give us all a new perspective as global citizens, which will lead to deeper cultural understanding.
In June 2008, Hanna organized a life-changing trip to Poland for students from D.C. Public Schools as part of an educational program about Poland. The program was done in collaboration with Mrs. Hanna Reiter, wife of the former Ambassador of Poland to USA, the Embassy of Poland, Embassy Adoption Program, D.C. Public Schools and WPAS. She worked with over 60 students, teaching them about Poland, its history, culture, and traditions through theater designed to help them better retain learnt material, improve their reading comprehension, posture, and speaking skills, increase their imagination, and energize their drive for life.
The program developed into a performance, "Poland the Beautiful, an Imaginary ." Students performed the piece at their schools and at the Embassy of Poland, and then took it on the road for the First Lady of Poland, Mrs. Maria Kaczynska, at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw and in many other places around Poland last June.
Hanna’s acting credits are extensive and include the role of George Sand in "Summer at Nohant", Young Helena Modjeska in ""Farewell to Arden" at ATICC, and in "Helena—the Emigrant Queen"; "Sunflowers" at the Polish Theater Institute in New York; Square Minus One; A Genie Named Khatab; Snow Queen; Anouilh’s Antigone; Gogol’s The Marriage; and Goldoni’s Mirandolina and many others.
Ms. Bondarewska has recently directed The Trap, Happily Ever After, The Visitor, The Third Breast, The Madman and the Nun, Death of Tintagiles, Miracle of Saint Anthony, Summer at Nohant, Farewell to Arden, Forefathers, and Out at Sea.
Her one-woman show, Lotte Lenya, won recognition at the Kennedy Center Performing Arts Festival. Hanna performed at the Washington Shakespeare Theatre, Spectrum Theatre, Classika-Synetic Theatre, The New York Polish Theater, Hippodrome State Theatre, and Acrosstown Theater in Florida, where she also directed The Tao of Pooh, based on the book by B. Hoffman, and S. Mrożek’s Tango. Her Polish theater credits are extensive and include work in Warsaw, Bialystok, Olsztyn, Torun, Katowice, and Wroclaw with many luminaries of the Polish stage.
Hanna is teaching drama at Ambassador Theater's Outreach Programs and has also taught special outreach programs with Classika-Synetic Theatre at Arlington schools with Lilia Slavova and drama classes at Classika. She graduated magna cum laude from the Mount Vernon College of The George Washington University and earned her Acting Diploma in Poland. For over 15 years she served as Executive Director of the Institute for Education and Membership Chairman of the ABC XXI Child Awareness Program for Poland, which supports the emotional health and rights of children and adolescents through reading programs, awareness, education, and action.
Ms. Bondarewska has received various honors, including 2015 and 2014 DC Metro Theater Arts Best Director, Best Play Award, 2013 Helen Hayes Canadian Partnership Award, the St. Cyril and Methodius Award of excellence in promoting the Bulgarian Culture, Julia Heflin Performing Arts Award, recognition by Who's Who Among Students in American Universities, identification as a National Dean's List Scholar, and others.
ATICC Board Member, Resident Director
Lilia Slavova is Audience Choice Award winner for directing “The Snow Queen” and the recipient of the St. Cyril and St. Methodius Award for the artistic achievements and promoting the Bulgarian culture. She received her MFA Degree in Dramatic arts from the renowned Higher Institute of Dramatic arts in Sofia, Bulgaria. She has over 30 years of acting, directing, choreography and teaching experience in Europe and the United States. She has been directing puppet shows for the last 12 years with Classika, now Synetic theatre and has also been Director of the studio and Director of education. Among many of the successful shows she directed are: The Nutcracker, Wondrous White Winter, Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood, The Story of a Lost Sock and others. A Member of all the unions she has been acting but mostly enjoying what she loves the MOST-Teaching. A well-recognized acting coach and talent scout Mrs. Slavova is happy to see her students on the screen, Broadway and theaters through the Washington Metro area. Previous directorial contributions with Ambassador Theater include the Little Prince and the original Hopa Tropa, which gained national attention and was featured on Fox News and in the Kids Euro Festival 2009.
Daria Kondova was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria. Trained as a
classical actress, she is excited about venturing into the
magical world of puppets. She welcomes everyone to experience the power
of Bulgarian songs and dances. Enjoy the show.
Amie Cazel is thrilled to be making her Ambassador Theater debut with the amazing Hopa Tropa Kukerica cast and crew.
Local theatre credits include Olive in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee with Workhouse Arts Center (running March 9 - May 6) and Sanyasi at last summer's Capital Fringe Festival. She is a company member in Educational Theatre Company's Shakespeare in the Schools program and with Young Playwrights' Theater. She also travels with the one woman play The Yellow Dress, a dating violence prevention program, through Deana's Educational Theater. Amie received her B.A. in vocal performance at Northeastern University. She's a proud member of SAG & AFTRA and is an Equity Membership Candidate. www.amiecazel.com
Gwen, 13, has appeared in Synetic Theater’s student production of The Snow Queen, Kai, and Synetic’s teen productions of Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck, and Romeo and Juliet, ensemble. She has six years of modern dance and one year of voice.
Konstantin Hadjipanzov was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He graduated from the University for Theater and Film Art “Krastyu Saravof”. Prior to achieving his acting degree, he worked as an assistance producer at “Boyana” Production Studios. He’s performed in more than 30 theater plays, many musicals and movies as part of Bulgarian, American, Spanish and German casts. He also worked as a radio program host at Express Radio and co-host of a morning TV show.
During the democratic changes in Bulgaria, Konstantin gets actively involved with politics and takes on a position as a deputy to the chief secretary of the State Ministry Assembly. Later he’s appointed to a diplomatic position with the State Department.
Up until he moved to the United State, Konstantin was a movie and TV show producer.
Ivan Dimitrov, Choreographer,
Graduated from the Bulgarian Music and Dance Academy Plovdiv
Founder of the International Folk Dance Festival –Plovdiv
Ivan brought a new vision of word music and dance with his experience
Well known in the world of Dance he produced and performed around the world .
Petko Kolev (Author, Music Composer and Musical Director): A professional musician and composer performing in Europe and the U.S. for the last 30 years. Prior to moving to the U.S. in 1997, Mr. Kolev spent many years touring and performing live with well-known Bulgarian bands. He also has extensive experience in composing original classical, rock and contemporary songs for adults and children, providing choral arrangements, studio recording, and scoring for live theater, documentary films, cartoons and videos. Since 2005, he has collaborated with Classika Theater, providing original music, sound effects and musical direction for works such as “The Nutcracker,” "Wondrous White Winter," "Three Little Pigs" and “Little Red Ridinghood.” In 2008, Mr. Kolev made his writing debut at Classika Theater as Author of the children's story "The Lost Sock", which was adapted into a puppet show by Lillia Slavova. Mr. Kolev composed the original music and lyrics for the play, "The Lost Sock", and provided musical direction.
Artist, Master Puppeteer, Puppet Designer, Mime and Puppet Coach. Julia Tasheva holds a Master’s degree in puppetry from the National Academy of Film and Theater Art in Sofia, Bulgaria. She is an award-winning puppeteer, having won best actress in the Bulgarian National Puppetry Awards for her role as Pinocchio. Ms. Tasheva is also an accomplished mime, having toured Europe with the Theatre for New Forms and Balagan Mime Theatre. She is also an award-winning visual artist. She has extensive experience with a wide variety of puppet systems as well as acting, pantomime, teaching ,coaching and designing throughout the Washington Metro Area with shows such as: The Princess and the Pea, The Moonflower, Sleeping Beauty, Ugly Duckling, Cinderella, A Wondrous White Winter, The Three Little Pigs, The Nutcracker, The Snow Child and Mother Goose at Classika Theatre in puppeteer/leading roles and as puppet coach, puppet designer, and live actor. She designed puppets and sets for Kashtanka and Beauty and the Beast at Northern Virginia Community College and for Alice in Wonderland, Matsukaze, The Snow Child, The Story of the Lost Sock, The Penguin Story and Mother Goose at Classika Theater, and for Hopa Tropa and Hopa Tropa:Kukerica at Ambassador Theater. In addition, she designed and starred in several one-person touring puppet and mime shows including The Snow Child, Spooky Boo House, and The Forgotten Birthday.
Antonio Petrov (Set Designer) is a contemporary artist who was born in Bulgaria in 1969. He began painting, drawing and sculpting at a very early age. He graduated from The National High School of Fine Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria and got his MA degree from the Bulgarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1997.
Antonio has worked as a sculptor for the Bulgarian National Television and Bulgarian Film Studios, as well as for the American movie company Nu Image Bulgaria Ltd.
Since 2005 Antonio has been living and working in Springfield, VA, focusing primarily on painting and interior decoration. He’s been a member of Lorton Workhouse Artists Association since 2010.
For contacts: www.ArtAntonioPetrov.artistwebsites.com
Orfeia, Vocal Ensemble: Eastern European Harmonies
Photo credit: Edwin Remsberg
Founded in late 2006 by internationally-acclaimed Bulgarian singer, director, and composer Tatiana Sarbinska, Orfeia Vocal Ensemble celebrates the rich and varied folk music traditions of Bulgaria and the Balkans. Orfeia presents an authentic Balkan sound in its cultural context through performances and workshops for adults and children.
Orfeia takes its name and inspiration from the ancient Thracian myth of Orpheus, a symbol musical journeys and musical storytelling. From the timeless motifs of village life to the sacred and spiritual, from the medieval to modern-day adaptations, the musical traditions of the Balkans come to life for audiences through Orfeia’s exciting and unique musical repertoire.
Orfeia made its debut in October of 2007 in Bulgaria as part of Music Without Borders, a concert of traditional music featuring Tatiana Sarbinska and a roster of all-star traditional musicians. Orfeia also performed in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria with the Pirin Ensemble, one of Bulgaria’s premiere national folk companies, and performed by invitation at the first national competition for traditional Bulgarian compositions in Chepelare, Bulgaria. Orfeia has been featured on the Slavi Show, Bulgaria’s popular late-night television program. In 2010, Orfeia performed at the 10th National Festival of Bulgarian Folklore in Koprivshtitsa, followed by a two week tour and performances throughout Bulgaria. Orfeia returned to Bulgaria in 2011 for performances in Sofia and Chepelare. Since its inception, Orfeia has performed and conducted workshops throughout the D.C. and Maryland area. Based in Montgomery County, Maryland, Orfeia has been the recipient of grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC). Orfeia is currently recording a CD of songs in the Sephardic/Ladino tradition at Airshow recording studio in Takoma Park, made possible through support from AHCMC.
Members of Orfeia are Sarah Allard, Natalia Blinkova, Courtney Deines-Jones, Carlendra Frank, Lily Hamburger, Heather Livingston, Diane Weinroth, and Elin Zurbrigg. Tatiana Sarbinska is the Artistic Director.
Orfeia is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Visit Orfeia on Facebook and at www.orfeia.org.
SVITANYA is a women's vocal ensemble whose lively performance of Eastern European folk music has captivated audiences across the northeast. Our mission is to bring this beautiful music to a wide range of audiences – from those who are familiar with it through their ancestral roots to those who are encountering it for the first time.
Svitanya's repertoire is drawn from the entire region of Eastern Europe. Some songs are modern
arrangements of traditional folk tunes, some are original compositions in the folk tradition, and others are sung as they have been for generations. They range from strong and strident field-working songs to traditional dance tunes to lush and emotive arrangements, all evoking the timbres, rhythms, and harmonies indigenous to the region.
All songs are sung in their original languages—fifteen or so, including Bulgarian, Ukrainian,
Macedonian, and many others––so Svitanya's performances include entertaining stories and
translations that make the music accessible and relevant to English-speaking audiences. Many pieces are sung a cappella, but a variety of ethnic instruments may accompany others. Eye-catching costumes include brightly colored, hand-embroidered blouses from different Eastern European countries, some made by the singers’ own relatives. Two of our singers are a mother-daughter pair, appropriate in a genre where songs have been passed through generations from mother to daughter. Svitanya offers several workshops in addition to its performances. These include singing, of course, but we can enhance the experience with traditional dances to accompany the songs, and can include instrumentalists as well singers. We can tailor workshops to many ages and abilities. Svitanya has been presented in many venues including Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA, the Philadelphia Art Museum. We have performed in collaboration with the dancers of ContempraDance Theatre, with famed Ukrainian singer Mariana Sadovska, repeatedly for Southern Tier Celebrates in Binghamton, NY, and also with Yara Arts Group of La MaMa Experimental Theater in New York, NY. We are honored to be included in the juried artist roster of Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour (PennPAT), whose mission is to support the ability of their Pennsylvania-based artists to tour in about ten surrounding states. PennPAT does this through a multi-layered approach that includes grants to presenters, grants to artists, and tour-readiness or technical training for artists. Information on grants for concert presenters can be found at www.pennpat.org. In 2005, we released our first full-length CD, First Light, which has been a popular item in person and online. Our music has been played on radio stations in at least twelve countries to date. We have begun recording for our second CD.
6845 Anderson St, Philadelphia, PA 19119
The Bulgarian folk-dance ensemble Zharava was established in January, 2007. Within its first six months the group gathered more than 20 enthusiastic members, including natives of Bulgaria, Russia and the U.S. Since its inception the group has expanded and accumulated a roster of more than 75 active members and alumni. Currently there are close to 30 active members and 3 tiers of groups: advanced performing group, intermediate and beginners groups. The fire in each performer's heart, as the name Zharava - 'burning embers' - implies, is transmitted to the audience by the addictive energy the group brings onto a stage.
The vision of Zharava's founder, Desi Jordanoff, is two-fold: to establish a strong ensemble that preserves the rich Bulgarian folk-dance tradition and to enhance the awareness of all the Bulgarian folk arts - dance, music, song and rhythm - throughout the U.S. and the world. Affiliate and educational programs have been launched to realize Zharava’s mission.
Already in its sixth year of existence Zharava has delivered over 50 performances at festivals in Washington DC and Maryland. In addition the group has participated in multiple concerts and artistic projects on behalf of organizations, such as the World Bank Group at its Annual Celebration of Cultures, celebrations of the Bulgarian Community Center of greater Washington, DC and the events organized by the Embassy of Bulgaria, local schools and universities.
Zharava has acquired great support in the arts communities in Washington, DC and Maryland, and has established and developed an affiliate group in Richmond, Virginia as a pilot project for Zharava’s affiliate programs. Founded in the fall of 2007 Zharava's affiliate dance group in Richmond has attracted more than 30 members, who retained their interest in the group and successfully transited into 2012 with a strong passion and love for the Bulgarian folk dance. The group in Richmond already has performed at local venues, festivals and events at the University of Richmond.
One of Zharava’s strong partners is the singing group Zunitza, which participates with Zharava at concerts and celebrations, most recent of which was at the Organization of the American States at a formal reception organized by the Embassy of Bulgaria for the Bulgarian National day. Zunitza’s three talented singers represent the colorful and richly ornate authentic Bulgarian song.
With more than forty years of musical experience as a performer, director, teacher, and composer in both the United States and in her native country of Bulgaria, Tatiana Sarbinska is a Bulgarian national treasure. Ms. Sarbinska has dedicated herself to sharing her extraordinary talent and her deep love and encyclopedic knowledge of Bulgarian traditional music and culture in both her native Bulgaria and throughout the United States. Ms. Sarbinska has developed her own artistic interpretations of the traditional musical heritage from her native Pirin region as well as the styles from each of Bulgaria’s distinct folkloric regions. In addition to her unmatched expertise in Bulgaria traditional music and vocal technique, Ms. Sarbinska has studied and performed traditional music from throughout Eastern Europe, including Byzantine chant, Slavonic liturgical music, Ladino, Arabic, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Russian, and Ukrainian music. Her extraordinary vocal range, technique and flexibility are joined with a magnetic stage presence that moves with ease from playful to passionate.
Ms. Sarbinska grew up singing traditional Bulgarian music in the Macedonian village of Rila, near the Pirin Mountains in southwestern Bulgaria. She received her degree in Traditional Folk Music at Academy of Music and Choreographic Art in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. For many years she was the featured soloist, as well as a conductor, of the internationally-acclaimed Pirin Ensemble, touring extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East, Northern Africa, Asia and the United States. She was Assistant Professor of Music at the Conservatory for the Academy of Music and Choreographic Art in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and Professor of Music for Western University in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. She was also the Director of Education for the School of Art in Blagoevgrad, developing and directing curriculum for 2500 students.
In the United States, Ms. Sarbinska has been an Artist-In-Residence for the Mayor’s Office of Art and Humanities, Boston, Massachusetts, teaching in the Boston Public Schools. She has taught at, among other venues, the Boston Conservatory, Boston University, Northeastern University-Boston, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Mendecino Balkan Music and Dance Camp, and the Augusta Heritage Center, and she has been a consultant for Revels, the renowned international music company. Ms. Sarbinska has performed throughout the United States, including at the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. She performed in the American Conservatory Theatre’s production of Hecuba with Olympia Dukakis. In 2004, Ms. Sarbinska was the music director for the University of Maryland production of Euripides’ The Trojan Women. In 2004, she received a WAMMY (Washington Area Music Award) for best world vocalist and has received individual and master artist awards from the Maryland State Arts Council. In 2006, Ms. Sarbinska was awarded the Ivan Vasov Medal by the government of Bulgaria for her contributions to Bulgarian culture. In 2010, she was awarded first prize in the International Competition for Composition in 7/8 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Her most recent CDs are Makedonsko Devojče and Katerino Mome.
Ms. Sarbinska’s mastery of Eastern European music and technique is matched by her ability to teach that music and technique to others, from beginner to professional. For many years, Ms Sarbinska has organized and conducted individual and group lessons and workshops in Eastern European vocal technique, classical and traditional vocal technique, and vocal jazz improvisation using Balkan musical themes. She has coached and directed world and classical music ensembles in Eastern European vocal production, repertoire, rhythm, pronunciation, styling, and cultural meaning and context. Ms. Sarbinska has worked with Libana (Boston, Massachusetts), Kitka (Berkeley, California), West Wind, (San Francisco, California), Village Harmony (Montpelier, Vermont), Boston Secession (Boston, Massachusetts), Women in Harmony (Portland, Maine), Planina (Denver, Colorado), Zdravec (Boston, Massachusetts), Born to Drone (San Jose, California), and Slaveya (Washington, DC). She is the founder and director of the vocal groups Divi Zheni, Zornitsa, and Orfeia and under her direction and tutelage, these groups have performed at concerts, folk festivals and workshops throughout the country as well as abroad.
Ms. Sarbinska is a composer of original songs and music based on Bulgarian traditional themes. One of her compositions, Katerino Mome, continues to be one of the most popular and recognized songs in Bulgaria. She has also created countless arrangements of Bulgarian and Eastern European traditional and neo-traditional music.
was born in a city surrounded by beautiful mountains and situated in a valley under a sleeping volcano in a very unique ethnographic region, where people dance and talk fast and have very fiery personalities. Desi’s extensive choreographic experience and material embodies a vast array of ethnographic regions of Bulgaria, such as Shope, Macedonian, Thracian, Rhodope, Dobrudja, Varna, Vlachija, Northern Bulgaria. She has choreographed Russian and Bulgarian dances for PIFT, Bulgarian dances for MBNECC, Junior Duquesne Tamburitzans, Slavjane, Balkantzi, and other groups in Pittsburgh. She has also conducted multiple Bulgarian folk dance workshops in Pennsylvania. For 8 years, Desi taught Russian dance, song and culture at the University of Pittsburgh, as part of the Russian and East European Studies intensive Russian language and culture training for graduate and undergraduate students. Finally, she has participated as a judge-panelist for Duquesne University Tamburitzan’s auditions 2 years in a row. Since she moved to the Washington, DC area in 2004, Desi continued to add more dance forms to her vast dance portfolio and extended her training in Flamenco, which she started in 2003 in Centro Flamenco de Pittsburgh. In 2005 she also joined a ballroom training group with master instructors to master the Latin Ballroom dances and potentially participate at various dance competitions. Desi believes that "That, which does not kill us, makes us stronger" a concept she learned the hard way from very dear friends in her past. She lives by the principle that "Everything happens for a reason and everything is in a constant state of flux. Embrace the change, learn the lessons sent to you, be grateful for the opportunity to grow, keep positive energy and attitude, give love to all living species and always smile". Life should be fun.
Assistant to the Artistic Director
Daniel Rovin is a graduate of the National Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts. He first appeared with Ambassador Theater in Summer at Nohant (Rousseau). In addition to acting for stage and film, he performs original poetry throughout the DC region.