Say hello to Rali, an account manager with a love for dance & painting!
Rali (short for Ralitsa) is all the way from Bulgaria, working as a Junior Account Manager in our London HQ. Joining us with a natural talent for working with people and knowing how clients think, Rali has made a fantastic impact on the business by creating some great, long-lasting relationships.
Aside from her career-driven goals, Rali has a lesser-known creative side with a gift for both traditional dance & painting, having learnt traditional Bulgarian Folklore dance for well over a decade & learning to paint over lockdown.
We spent the afternoon speaking to Rali to learn more about her and her passions.
Creative Wellbeing | An Interview w/ Ralitsa
So firstly, you came over from Bulgaria to study, is that right?
“Yes, that’s right. I remember the first day I came to England so well! It was back in 2015 and it was such a heavy rainy day.
I went to London Metropolitan University to study Business Management but learnt English even more fluently whilst working in a bar during my studies.
I’d learnt English in kindergarten and had private lessons too but it’s only when I came here did I learn to actually pick up how the language worked!”
That must have been some challenge, studying whilst learning a new language you’re learning in. This isn’t the first time you’ve spent a long time in another country though, is it?
“It certainly was! No, I’m quite familiar with travelling around as I’ve travelled extensively around Europe for the Folklore festivals in many different European countries.”
Oh wow! So how did this first come about?
“There was a folklore dance ensemble visiting schools to advertise for people to join. I told my mum I was so excited about it, so she got me enrolled.
I had my first folklore festival at the age of 11 as part of a foreign exchange program in a place called Izmir in Southwest Turkey. I stayed with a family who I became so close with and their daughter who became like a second sister to me.
I was quite homesick that first time from home, especially as back then roaming charges for calls were so expensive!”
I can imagine, missing your family at so young whilst seeing the world for the first time. Tell me more about the dance.
“Bulgarian folk dances are intimately related to the music of Bulgaria. The distinctive feature of Balkan folk music is the asymmetrical meter, built up around various combinations of ‘quick’ and ‘slow’ beats. Bulgaria is divided into seven ethnographic regions: Northern Bulgaria, Dobruja, Shopluk, Thrace, Strandzha, Macedonia and Rhodopes. Each region has its own distinctive style of dance, to the extent that a knowledgeable observer can often tell which region a group of Bulgarians comes from by how they perform popular dances. In addition, due to the intricate ethnic mix in the Balkans, each locality and even each village may have its own variation of dance, different enough that it amounts to a distinct dance. In Bulgarian folk dance literature, local variations are often differentiated by adding the geographical origin to the dance name: for example, pravo plovdivsko horo means “the pravo dance from the town of Plovdiv.”
Sounds fascinating to be in all those countries and amongst so many other performing acts..
“Oh, it was! We had so much fun travelling around Europe by coach and got to do other activities as well such as planting trees or visiting a space camp. Truly something special to look back on from my creative side.”
And speaking of creative, you’ve taken on painting too now. How did that come about?
“This all happened recently. When lockdown came in, I felt like all I was doing was being focused on screens. My phone, my laptop, my TV – I found it tough at times on my mental wellbeing.
I stumbled across a video on YouTube on how to make homemade soaps, which I did quite well but took a lot of different oils, processes, and space just to make one.
Then one day a video on drawing techniques popped up. Then I watched another, and it grew from there. I learnt how to mix acrylic paints, which then lead to a gallery class about colour mixing. I found it all very therapeutic and great for my mental health.”
I bet it’s very relaxing and I’m sure rewarding the whole process?
“Ye it truly is! I use my Ollin monitor arm & Ollin Laptop mount put my paper and inspiration picture up so it’s perfect for the way I’m positioned for hours to help with strain and help me focus purely on getting the right details in the piece.
I did learn some space-saving techniques too from the colour mixing classes like only having white yellow, blue & red saves space at home for painting as well as on the paint block.”
What have been your favourite things to paint?
“Well, I’ve painted the mountains in Bulgaria in Sofia City (my hometown), along with sunsets, blossoming trees and nature in springtime. Those are my favourite times visually and really lifted me up when I was stuck indoors.”
What would you say are your take aways are from it?
“I love just zoning out and painting for hours. You end up concentrating for so long, which can take it out of you but at the same time helps you to slow down and focus your mind on doing one thing.”
Creative Wellbeing | An Interview w/ Ralitsa Todorova