Getting started

The Founder and Artistic Director of Zharava, Desi Jordanoff, is a longtime professional folk dance performer, instructor, choreographer and director of folk dance groups. Her vision and goal is to advance the mission of Zharava through performances and participation in dance and music festivals and through delivering training and workshops, organizing student performances, and holding recreational dance events.    



Strong beginnings in 2006

The first enthusiastic gatherings of the Bulgarian folk-dance ensemble Zharava were in December of 2006. Within its first six months, the group gathered more than 20 enthusiastic members, including natives of Bulgaria, Russia and the U.S. Very young, during the first year of its existence, Zharava actively performed and participated in many events and delivered performances even without the depth of knowledge and skill gained during the following years.


The fire in each member’s heart is implied by the group’s name: Zharava, which is the Bulgarian word for ‘burning embers’.





Zharava is a fast growing community

Today Zharava is an established cultural institution – a signature establishment of the Bulgarian Culture and mainly an incubator for future cultural art developments.

With all its activities, Zharava educates people and creates community through the experience of Bulgarian folklore dance.

Zharava’s training incorporates traditional dances from all ethnographic regions of Bulgaria, authentic folk traditions brought from villages in Bulgaria, as well as workshops in costume design.

For more than 13 years Zharava already has gathered more than 100 members and continues to attract new students from all walks of life, cultures and nationalities. 55 members are actively participating in the ensemble’s training classes and their number is growing consistently.  


What is the “horo” dance?

If you see Bulgarians dancing in the street holding hands and forming big circles or rows, you have most probably come across a horo, the national dance of the country. This centuries-old tradition has been preserved in Bulgaria and a few other Balkan states, and it still brings people together for moments of unity and spontaneous joy.

Read more here: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/bulgaria/articles/horo-the-history-behind-bulgarias-national-dance/


“ My quality of life significantly improved upon joining the Zharava dance group. I knew nothing about Bulgarian folk dancing, but I was immediately drawn by the light-hearted spirit of our instructor, Desi Jordanoff, and all of her students. It truly feels like family away from home. I always look forward to our Monday evening practice sessions. Plus – it is an amazing workout, I burn on average 700 calories in just 2 hours. “

— Desislava Dancheva, student in the beginners class



We meet Mondays and Wednesdays for group dance practice from 7 – 9 PM (EST) on the 2nd floor of the John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church located on 14th and Corcoran Street in Washington, D.C.


Contact us

Find us on social media, drop-in for a group class or send us an email.