Viet Nam News
By Thiên Hương
The showbiz network and audiences in Việt Nam are familiar with professional dancer Daniel Denev, who performed on Dancing with the Stars, winning the televised contest in 2014 and 2015.
The famous Bulgarian dancer and choreographer credits Việt Nam with inspiring him over the course of his lengthy career and bringing joy to his daily life.
Since 2011, the dancer has been invited to join Dancing with the Stars as a guest star, dancing with local celebrities, but his love for the country convinced him to stay here longer.
“My first impression of Việt Nam came when I landed and the door opened,” he recalled. “The hot, humid air entered my lungs. And ever since, I have been in love with the culture, food, people. Everything is awesome.
“Việt Nam gives me everything,” he said. “Food variety, restaurants, constant change, new bars opening---it’s just so free. I feel so free here.
“I started dancing in my mom’s tummy, I guess,” he joked. “I can express more with my body language than I can by just speaking. I have a feel for every count, an idea for every step and every move.
“Dancing is my life, and this is what I am,” he said.
Many Vietnamese have witnessed his professionalism while he works.
Denev has helped celebrities in Việt Nam win prizes at the Dancing with the Stars show. In 2014, he and singer Thu Thủy won the gold prize, while in 2015, he won the second-highest prize with actress Ninh Dương Lan Ngọc.
In the latest season, Dancing with the Stars 2016, Denev was assigned to pair with Jennifer Phạm, Miss Asia USA 2006. They practised hard over three months and won the bronze prize.
“He is very dedicated to the show,” Phạm said. “He helped me understand a lot of things. He also mingles well with Vietnamese culture. I watched him eat hột vịt lộn (boiled duck egg containing a baby duckling), and he said he could also eat nhộng (roasted silkworm).”
Denev can speak Vietnamese well and can even sing Vietnamese songs.
For him, every day begins and ends with dancing. Born in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, he started dancing at the age of 6, when his mother sent him to his first dancing class, where he discovered his passion for dance.
“I didn’t want to dance and was shy in a class full of girls,” he said. “But then, the teacher showed me some nice steps. At my birthday party, I danced for everyone at home and everyone liked it. I was encouraged and kept going to class.”
Denev has been selected for Bulgaria’s national dance sport team and has won various prizes at national contests.
Shining in VN
“The last time I paired with Lan Ngọc, I had a lot of fun,” Denev said of his most impressive moments on Dancing with the Stars. “She was crazy, and I was crazy too.”
“We did not work well at first,” said Ngọc. “Because we did not understand each other. We had to communicate through a friend. I hated him at first, but later, he turned out to be a nice man. He understood me more. And I figured out that as long as I talked to him and made him understand me more and what I wanted, he could do everything for me.
“We were determined to win the competition. Daniel is talented. He always thinks of new and creative moves, which showcase my emotions on stage,” she said.
“Sometimes I get angry and demanding, even though they are not professional dancers,” Denev said. “When we are in the studio, we are the same. I don’t treat them like celebrities. They are like my dancing students. Then we practise and we bond. The celebrity thing was gone as if it didn’t exist.”
“He’s crazy sometimes,” said Phạm. “But his craziness opens my mind a lot. It works in the dance and people find it interesting.”
“He takes responsibility for what he does,” said dancer Trí Anh, a judge on the show.
“He was always there for me whenever I felt depressed,” said actress Ngọc, who paired with Denev for Dancing with the Stars 2015.
“He can do everything that a Vietnamese man does,” said singer Đoan Trang.
“Since the show was held in Việt Nam, many more people have come to learn about and love dance sport. More people have flocked to dance sport centres. Much of the newfound popularity is attributable to international dancers like Denev. He is an artistic dancer. He’s very passionate and knowledgeable about dancing. I greatly appreciate him,” she said.
Denev thinks his greatest achievement was abandoning everything he had at home to come here to change his life.
“I want to become someone here,” he said. “I don’t want people to know me as the partner of Lan Ngọc, Ngọc Quyên or Thu Thủy. I want to be Denev Daniel. I want people to know me as a dancer, choreographer, model, or actor or whatever. I want people to know my name and come to me when they want to create something special. I enjoy life here.” — VNS