Zdravena Nakeva — Coach, Dancer and Choreogrpaher

Zdravena Nakeva — Coach, Dancer and Choreographer (Photo by Ivet Petrova)

The beaming smile of Zdravena is filling the cafe with positive energy. While drinking her cup of cappuccino, she told me her adventurous story of her Rhythmic Gymnastics career.

She was just 4 years old when her mother, during a one month vacation in Spain, took her to the Rhythmic Gymnastics Hall, where a friend of hers was coaching. Zdravena fell in love with it. So when they came back to Varna, she continued performing.

For her 18 years career as a contestant, she won a lot of medals and took part in many competitions, but her greatest achievement and favorite memory is when she won first place in the Republican Championship in Spain in 2012. Her first place was for her performance with the ribbon. For her, it was an unbelievable success, because she was competing against 275 women, and she was from a foreign country.

Zdravena Nakeva performing a composition with a ball.

Zdravena says that if it wasn’t the Rhythmic Gymnastics, she may not be that organized to work on so many things. She is part of a club where she works as a coach to small girls in Mass Rhythmic Gymnastics, which is again rhythmic gymnastics but not that professional. She is having her own group for stretching called “Transform 180”, and another one for small girls called “Dance with me”.

When she has free time, she takes part in different dance performances, but the most interesting thing is when she became part of Port Aventura’s team in Barcelona, Spain. Port Aventura is a theme park and Zdravena was part of its animation team. She was dancing and doing acrobatics for ten months there, but then she decided to come back and continue doing what she loves — Rhythmic Gymnastics.

When she came back she decided to coach children and teach them the lessons she learned from her career. She wants the girls to become gracious, confident, to be organized, smart, and not to be scared to try, and not to give up when it gets hard. She says: “It is way much harder to be on the side of the coach. It is really scary when you make a composition for a small girl, and then the girl performs it in front of everyone, and you just stay there and there is nothing you can do if something doesn’t go as expected. Because you put so much effort into making this kid look good, to remember her composition, and to perform it well, and when she does everything right, you are filled with pride for yourself, but also for this little human being. It is priceless!”

Zdravena Nakeva — “Transform 180”

Zdravena says that she always finds a way to the hall. She says: “I sometimes tell myself that I have to stop, so I stop for a couple of days. And then again I come back. I can’t leave it behind. It is part of my identity, and a part of who I am.”

For her, the hall is family and friendships. Her coaches are like mothers to her. She says, with a few tears in her eyes: “The Hall is family, friends, love, and happiness, but maybe it is also addiction. I can’t give up the hall. It doesn’t matter which one is it, but I just can’t leave it. I have tried so many things — coach in the dolphinarium, arranger of flowers, helping in wedding agency, but all of them have been parallel with the Rhythmic Gymnastics.”

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This interview was taken by Ivet Petrova, student in the American University in Bulgaria, majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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Ивет Петрова

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