this one’s special

Katherina Radeva in 40/40, photo by Beth Chalmers

Hiya loves,

Here I am, writing a wee blog about coming full circle, and so because I am not sure there is ever such a thing as a full circle, I googled it. The Oxford dictionary has this…

Returning to a previously held belief or position

It got me thinking about how long it has taken me to return to this particular circle. 

It got me thinking about the first time I entered the Place and what that felt like.

It got me thinking about the numerous shows I have loved there.

It got me thinking about what it will feel like for my body to take that space.

It got me thinking about London and when I left London and why that happened.

It got me remembering…

It’s Spring 2002, and I am young, like 20 or 21 and a student on the Performance Design Course at Wimbledon School of Art. I’ve put my name down for a project called Design Collaborations. It’s a project between second year design students from my course and second year dance students from London Contemporary Dance School. I remember it like yesterday – doing the project was dead cool – I, less so. 

Everyone was dead hot. Like steamy sort of stuff. My collaborator Phillip (German)  was doing the choreography. We had four dancers – two Italian women – Leticia and Elena and Chris (English) and Christian (Danish) who I fancied and basically didn’t speak to, ever. Because it was too hard. Christian kept doing some weird movements with his arms and back and honestly I did not know where to look so, I just didn’t. And then, there was me. Mega shy, super excited and very broke indeed – doing extra shifts for the tube fares to and from Euston.

This project though was entirely transformative. Like, one of those transformations which words could not describe. It was magical. From watching them at work to sharing my visual ideas to making it all happen to having a real live audience which laughed and cried. Although students, it felt like we were all pros. 

My design was simple. I had made it myself and then carried on the London underground because I could not afford a taxi to take it there. It had a super long tab, fresh flowers, and a commode. The boys costume was mainly repurposed from the wardrobe department at The Place, the girls costumes – I made. I had managed to convince Phillip to set this whole thing to Balkan Roma music and a Maria Nedkova track. We did – it sounded mega. Two Bulgarian friends came to see our show – and needless to say – they cried with abandon throughout.

Then that was that. Over the years, I have done some other designs which have sat on this stage. This time round, my body will sit and dance and draw on it too. As I write this I recognise and feel the privilege and of course the pressure. This one’s special – this one is really special. 

It’s Spring 2023, and I am 40 and I am touring 40/40. In a funny way, you could say that it’s sort of about coming of age – about acceptance and love and about migrancy and about womanhood but mostly it’s about J O Y. And about context. And I deeply hope that the London audiences will connect with that joy I am giving myself the permission to foreground.

40/40 the book – by Katherina Radeva – to get a copy head over to