Performing Folk Ensemble ‘Otets Paissii’

The BMNECC’s Performing Folk Ensemble “Otets Paissii” has been delighting local and international audiences for many years. The group was formed by Nicholas Jordanoff in 1955, commensurate with the First Annual Pittsburgh Folk Festival. This talented group of singers, dancers, and musicians presents its annual concert each spring, and performs regularly at venues in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania. The ensemble is an annual participant in the BMNECC’s “Na Megdana” Bulgarian Festival, as well as the “Verea” Bulgarian Festival in Chicago. In 1990 the ensemble appeared at numerous venues in Bulgaria, and in 2003 the dancers performed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to commemorate 100 years of diplomacy between the Unites States and Bulgaria.

This dynamic performing ensemble delights in taking audiences along with them on a cultural journey to the unique regions of Bulgaria and Macedonia. The ensemble’s roots run deep, spanning many generations, and the passion of its dancers shines through in every performance. These industrious men of women not only donate their time for rehearsals and performances, but also raise funds for the ensemble and volunteer their services to enhance the overall quality of the Bulgarian Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center. The young dancers of the Shareni Chorapi children’s ensemble are immersed in the culture from an early age, and serve as the next generation of performers and BMNECC ambassadors.

Bilyana Stoyanova Stafura is the Artistic Director, Denise Nedev is Managing Director of Operations, and Beth A. Stafura is Managing Director of Marketing. Together, they all manage the wardrobe and help keep the group well-dressed. Guest choreographers, such as the acclaimed Hristo and Kaya Ivanov, have contributed to the group’s performances, while contemporary dancers and choreographers such as Elsa Limbach expand the ensemble’s artistic horizons.

The ensemble is named for Otets Paissii, the monk who wrote the first comprehensive history of the Bulgarian people.

If you are interested in performing with the ensemble, or having them perform at your event, you may contact Bilyana at or by phoning the Center at 412.461.6188.

Here’s a look at the Otets Paissii dancers in action:

The BMNECC also sponsors two other dance groups: the Danka Ensemble and the Children’s Ensemble Shareni Chorapi. Contact Aleksandar Zankin if you would like to become a member of the Danka group. Click here for information on the children’s ensemble.

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