by Aleksander Mandzhukov‘s idea

Inspired by a conversation with Vanya Todorova (Equestrian base “Achilles”)

Participating – 1st year students majoring in Theater of Movement – Dance Theater, NATFIZ, under the supervision of Al. Mandzhukov

Musical environment – Bach, Vivaldi, natural sounds

Description of the idea

The focus of the presented artistic project is an intervention between an artist and a professional from another field, on one of the main themes of the project – Empathy. As a professional artist in the field of dance theater, I find a connection between the language of corporeality and the empathetic impact through the body to construct a performance. Artistic performance through the body and the relationship with the audience makes a specific impact on the viewer through an invisible connection and considers the relationship as a projection of a human problem. We will focus this creative project on the understanding of empathy as a formula that represents it as a passive-contemplative attitude to the experiences of another – empathy or sympathy, but without active intervention to change through actions (Psihologiceskii slovar, 1983: 413).

Key aspects

For the purposes of the artistic intervention, an interview-type conversation was carried out with a professional horse caretaker (equine) who works with horses for the purpose of supportive therapy for children and people with deficits and cerebral palsy. Main topics provoking the creative team from this conversation are:

  • An interesting parallel between the box breeding of the horses and the self-isolation of the people – alone in their own boxes sunk in another box that presents itself as a window to the world. And a parallel between communication with nature and communication with artificial intelligence.
  • On communicating through “emotional intelligence.” A person communicates with the world around him outside of his rational understanding of it. “Emotional intelligence” is one possible way to communicate with the world of other “sentient beings” and only communication through it can allow us freedom and peace.
  • A social experiment presented by Vanya Todorova (not her authorship), which provokes the creative team to create a certain interaction with the audience.
  • The human-horse empathic communication: there are different types of therapeutic practices for restoring mental balance through a human-horse relationship, both for establishing a healthy mental structure and for developing certain qualities in a person for a more human relationship and presence with another person . For work and restoration of correct empathic connections in society and for the role of man – society. For the work for children with deficits and not only. Children with typical development increasingly begin to experience symptoms of modern diseases such as hyperactivity, attention deficit, etc. Therapeutic work with horses – horses “sponge and battery at the same time” – is a good rehabilitation system for development.

About the performance

The performance is based on a specific designated space, which is an association for an arena, for a riding arena for horses. Each student-artist is placed in his own box or space and tries to establish some kind of connection with the viewer through a bodily experience of a certain emotion. Depending on whether it is successful or not, the reaction of the emotion will be different.

The second part of the performance is a specific construction of a visible network of threads such as emotions will try to connect the viewer with certain boxes, cells, emotions. And the subsequent violent severing of these connections, which manifests itself on the viewer when this visible thread is severed. A mixed attempt to recreate the example presented by Vanya Todorova and a psychological game from family psychotherapy, in which each family member is connected to another family member through a visible thread. The play of roles, significance and connection in the family (as the smallest structural unit of society). In performance, we will refer it to emotions as a building block of our own empathy.

The third part of the performance will provide a choice for the audience to feel freedom as the highest goal of man.

The performance will be held on the main stage of NATFIZ within the EMPACT calendar with the participation of students from the program “Movement Theater – Dance Theater”.



Conducted an interview with a horseman, a person who works with horses, and teaches children and adults to communicate with horses and ride. The interview was filmed in the stables of the “Achilles” horse base, in Sofia, Bulgaria, with Vanya Todorova. The main focus of the conversation is the relationship and communication of man with horses and accordingly – how this type of communication affects our empathy towards other people. How does an animal manage to communicate with a human? And what is the key to building an empathic connection through “emotional intelligence”.

Due to the proximity of a major thoroughfare, the atmosphere of the recording is a mixture between the tranquility of nature and the industrial and technological progress of mankind, which corresponds extremely adequately to the topics covered in the conversation.

Place of the event: “Achilles” horse base, “Simeonovsko shose” blvd., between “Simeonovo” quarter and Bistrica village, Sofia, Bulgaria

Event Date: May 22, 2023

Participants: Alexander Mandjukov and Vanya Todorova


  • A short film to present the point of view of a professional and provoke an artist to create a performance for the relevant empathic connections.
  • Building an idea and concept for a performance entitled “Museum of Emotions”.


The second stage is in action: a research experiment together with students from the program “Theater of movement – Dance theater”, the final stage of which is the realization of a stage performance inspired by the interview presented above. Students are challenged through different emotions and the way they can affect and express themselves through physicality. This communication between building an image of an emotion through the body and building a relationship with the viewer not only helps their learning process but is also a good basis for building the corresponding stage performance. In addition, the participants themselves have never had access to such a stage realization from the field of performative arts, and it is a challenge for them to encounter this kind of conceptual art.

Venue: NATFIZ Big Stage

Event date:

  • Rehearsal period 16. 09.23 – 27.10.23
  • Planned date 27.10.2023.

Participants: Students from NATFIZ major Theater movement – dance theater with music. Hand. Alexander Mandjukov.


  • Creating and presenting a stage performance.
  • Research and familiarization of young future artists and their audiences with different emotions and emotional competence and communication for full communication and different contemporary stage forms through the body.
  • Provoking the audience to a different kind of performance, interaction and participation.


For the construction of the performance, scenic and scenographic details have been arranged. The only need is to purchase 10 large sheets – cadastre type, on which to write the key emotions/words; 10 meters of yarn or other colored long threads and two scissors.

For filming and reporting, we rely on the EMPACT team to assist.

For the poster:

I propose that the poster is made up of different iconic works of art (of different types and genres) woven into a web of colored threads, one of which is visibly broken.

The interview:


The project is co-financed by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union under the Grant Agreement No: 101055903 – EMPACT – CREA-CULT-2021-COOP-2

The project is realized with the financial support of the  National Culture Fund  

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