IGOR JELEN IGGY- MISTER AMAZING: I visited 190 countries, the World is a really happy place to live!

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June 10, 2024

A citizen of the World. Full of stories you won’t hear anywhere else. A man you deserve to meet in person. Only in that case you will be able to truly capture his charm and cheerfulness, with which he captivates, and especially his lust for life. One of a kind. Careful.
Constantly in a good mood, in the mood for “bubbles” that is, champagne, to celebrate the beautiful feeling that, according to him, is imperative at every moment, also as the good company and the wonderful fine things.

Choreographer, artistic director of the Dance Theater, an artist whose beginnings are connected with serving military service in the JNA. And he presents his country Slovenia in an authentic way, and from him you will learn many things about that beautiful country that are not even on Google. With a fine method, he will convince you that Slovenia is always the Eurovision favorite, he will bring you into the big hall to hear their live performance, and even though you don’t have time and you’re always in a race against time, you won’t resist his invitation .

*How many times have you come to Eurovision, this time you are in Malmö?
– The sixth.
*For the very first time, You were the choreographer of “Sister”. In Tallinn in 2002.
– Oh, that was 22 years ago, isn’t it? Yes Yes.
*Have you been to Tallinn?
– No. Because I had so many, many projects in Slovenia, for such a big, big money, so I decided to stay.

 

*And how did you create that interesting choreography?

– Well, you know I’m a person who travels non-stop. I have visited 190 countries. Every year I have more than 50 take offs and landings, I live by airplanes, and so it was not difficult for me to make the three of them on stage empresses, queens and ladies into beautiful flight attendants. Because I see that all the time in flight attendants, don’t I? Before that, I traveled a lot with Swiss-air and with our Adria, which unfortunately is gone now, and I saw flight attendants more than anything else… I don’t stop traveling, ever since I can remember, and also during the covid I was in 43 countries . Last year in 32 countries. So far this year I’ve been in 15, but I’m going to put myself in some seventh, eighth gear to reach some number of 30.

*When will you be in Australia? I took of you an interesting statement and it was broadcast on the Radio in Australia, with host Sime Georgievski.
– Australia? I was in Australia privately 12 years ago. Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Canberra and then I went to New Zealand. And New Zealand was not as close to my heart as I thought. I traveled thousands and thousands of kilometers with a rental car and came back to Australia again, because it stayed close to my heart, it is beautiful.
*How long did you stay there?
-Three weeks.

*You said that you made “Sisters” empresses, queens, and ladies, but You know how to make every woman a queen and every man a king, just because you have exceptional behavior. You respect people as if they were really kings, and that’s how they feel in your company.
-Yes Yes Yes. That’s my style. And that’s why I have excellent collaborations with many, many artists and opera singers, pop singers, and I’ve done wonderful fashion shows in our country and abroad. I also worked at a fashion week in Switzerland. I met and worked with Ben Affleck, Monica Bellucci… By the way, to go back to the beginning, it was 1980 in the former Yugoslavia. I was in elementary school and I did a little dance group and then comes high school… When I was 14, 15, 16 years old, I did some what we would say now openminded choreographies, and at that time in Yugoslavia they were a bit shocking and scandalous. So and then, on visits all over Yugoslavia, we also had bodyguards and sometimes banned performances before 10 in the evening. When I was 18-19 years old, I finished high school and formed my dance theater, it is now a house of art, Cultural Art Company “Igen”, and it has nothing to do with Hungarians, where the word “igen” means great, because when I was 13-14 years old and I didn’t even know about it. Igen because I am Igor Yelen– the first syllable of the name and the last of the surname is Igen…When I was 19 years old, after high school, I was chosen by Belgrade to go to a world festival in Cuba for a month. It was the real Cuba, where we couldn’t spend even a hundred dollars in a month. Only a ten-minute shower a day, bread and water, a real “Fidel Castro Cuba”… And in the middle of such a lifestyle for a month, among the groups from the 50 countries that were at that world festival, my choreography was so special, it was called “Pobegnimo v svetlejšo pričnost” (Let’s go to a brighter future), as Slovenia, according to my visions, would have left Yugoslavia, much earlier. Five years before we got out.

*So that choreography brought you a twist, and by the way, it also had a hidden symbolism.

– That choreography went to 27 countries, it started in Cuba, then it continued to the countries of the Soviet Union, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Korea, we went through it all… To return to Cuba, among all those 50 countries, only my choreography was chosen for promotion infront of Fidel Castro. There was a big national holiday, in July 1987 and my dancers and I performed the performance. Although we were young, I was 19 years old, and the dancers were a little younger than me, I alone led them through Belgrade, where we brought flowers to comrade Tito’s, Marshal Tito’s grave at every visit. Because we could not fly with Lufthansa and others, but with JAT, and so we went to Belgrade, then to the grave and from there we flew to Korea, America, the Soviet Union, Moscow, Leningrad, Crimea after a month of festivals, because those were friendly countries with Yugoslavia. And we were recommended by the Yugoslav Embassy of Cuba in Havana, from where we could not call home for a month and that was terrible. When we came back, they called us: this crazy young Slovenian impressed us so much, that we suggest you give him some award, some recognition in your country! And because of that, they sent us on the road many more times with the same choreography… So, at the age of 19, I return home in August and in September I receive the status of Artist of the state, although it is impossible and there is no way to get that title before 25 years. I don’t know if anyone else received that at that age. And I received the status of an artist in the Republic of Slovenia from the Department of Culture in Belgrade and have had that status ever since. Every three to five years I have to give reviews, because we’re still talking about art. And we create, and create. That’s how I created the Igen House of Art in Celje. Open www.igen.si and you will see all the countries we have passed through. 111 world locations, in 43 countries. All continents. We had a guest appearance from Paris, to a premiere in New York… the house exists for 44 years. In that house we have education for ballet, contemporary, modern, every year we have six or more teachers work with us from other countries and from Slovenia.I am the founder and now the artistic director of that school, but how old I am is a top secret, that’s why it’s not even on Google, it’s just that I was born on July 21, ha ha. Now back to why I travel so much…

*Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted to ask you, not about the age, but about the motive for the trips.

– Because I was born on a trip. My father and my mother loved to travel, at that time, let’s say half a century ago and a little more than that, it was already famous to go somewhere. There were five or seven cars in my town Celje. And you know what those times are like. Both, dad and mom went on a wedding trip, actually they didn’t go, they were supposed to go from Rijeka to Dubrovnik. And that’s like going to Bora Bora today. And since the roads were very bad, my father had that little Fiat that bounced, and my mother’s stomach “broke”, in the seventh month of pregnancy. We didn’t have an incubator in Celje, there was one in Ljubljana, and I ended up in the Rijeka Hospital, because should they get on a ship in Rijeka and make a wedding trip. So I was born there and then I stay in Croatia for two months in an incubator. And so I started traveling before I came into this world, when I was seven months old. And that’s why they tell me – “That’s a sign that I should travel all the time!”.
*”Igen” traveled to 43 countries, something that is fascinating, but what is the biggest success?
– As I said, my dance theater was in more than 43 countries, and we also have a children’s production, which I can say it is my greatest success, because we have a dancing alphabet. Yani Golob, the great composer from Slovenia, together with the children, with singers and actors, made 25 songs from A to Z, and why do I say this – with my production, we traveled from Canada to all of Europe, we also worked on a film with Slovenian television, and I love that to mention the most important, we achieved 550 replays. We are not New York, we are not Broadway, even for Yugoslavia that is a lot, and here is what happened in Slovenia. And if they have a hundred replays in theaters, that is such a boom in Slovenia, as in America 15.000 replays on Broadway. And we had 550. “Dancing Alphabet” is a musical. From the eighties until the year of the millennium, 2000, I did only art production. In the following period, I was an external pedagogue in kindergartens and taught this dancing alphabet in front of seven thousand children. Ten years every day in kindergartens as a guest artist. So I worked in Trieste, Celovec, everywhere in our Slovenian country. On the website, under events, there is a number of 300 to 500 events that I did. For example, my biggest one was with Ben Affleck, I worked with him a lot.
*It is indeed a rarity.
– Many awards and receptions with presidents, I was ten times to the king of Morocco, I worked on production for Turkish television more than 15 times. “Joy of Europe” more than 14 times. I worked in Erdogan’s palace many times. All my work has been on world stages. And I have been doing events since 24 years ago. Open my website www.igen.si and you will see what I have been doing.


*Besides going to Eurovision, You also going to Madonna concerts.
– Yes, because she is a queen to me, a diva. Not so much as a singer, but as a performer-artist… Take a look at her video production, her dramaturgy of the story. I went to her shows eight times in 25 years. Twice in Paris, twice in Barcelona, ​​once in Lisbon, once at the last show in Berlin, once in Tel Aviv and once in Vienna. So her story always fascinates me.
I’ve been to 109 countries in the last two years and I’ve timed it right to catch Madonna again in Europe. In May, during the Eurovision Song Contest, there was a concert in Rio de Janeiro. The journalists wrote, I can’t believe it, that there was an audience of one and a half million. Was it all of Rio and all of Latin America to have a million and a half viewers? Let’s say 100,000 that’s some maximum, but…
*But it can be more.
– I know it can. I was at Copacabana and I swam there, because I was once on a trip through Argentina, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Iguazu, etc. Yes, it’s a long beach, but still a million and a half visitors, that’s almost as much as the whole of Slovenia.

*Tell me, have you been to Macedonia?
-Many many times in the army as well. In Prilep. Only ten months because I was the last yugoslavian generation in the Army. We “,Yanese” already broke away after that. They gave me the opportunity to choose Ljubljana, Belgrade or Macedonia in Prilep. And I chose Macedonia because they are good people, in Slovenia I don’t know if I can say that now, almost all the elders were Serbs. I love them too, but back then: in the JNA if you read the Slovenian newspaper “Mladinec” you went to prison for 15 days, if you spoke Slovenian you went to prison for 15 days. That’s why I chose Macedonia and then I received the title of exemplary soldier, golden soldier, that means sixty days less instead of 360 days. There I met the group “Mizar”, also my friend Vladimir Kaevski was with me in the army and when I finished serving of ten months, they let me go and his father said: You will be with us in Skopje, you can stay for two months because you finished two months earlier. let a Slovenian boy stay with us for at least three days, to go to concerts and parties, because You were such a good friend of Vladimir Kaevski. And the band “Mizar” made original music for my performance “Room 366”. And why room 366? The room is dedicated to the Yugoslav army and my year had 366 days, and in the army they say how many you have until the end?- seven one, how many you have?- three six six, how many you have – two zero zero, and that’s why I made the play “Room three three six six” and “Mizar” made author’s music for this play and the play went to some 11 countries and won European awards. But when the war was on and we should have stopped. This play is the departure of one piece of that six pieces- cake, the departure of Slovenia from Yugoslavia.

 

*Helena Blagne is your diva and also our diva who won at Makfest ’86 during that period. You are very good friends.
– We love each other very very much. We are very close friends. Also with her son Christian, who has now become a master.
*Do You know the song that won in our country “Koga te nena”?

– I know, because you sang it to me when we were in Lisbon or in Israel (Israel). You sang it and we sent the video to Helena. And for Helena I did great imperial events, I made a completely different Helena. Yes people said it wasn’t her. These are usually events where she always sings opera.

*I keep hearing a wonderful slogan from you that says “Everything is just amazing” and that’s why you have the epithet Mister Amazing.
– La vita e bella, bellisima.

*And your lifestyle is absolutely elegant.

– I wake up at 10:10 a.m. and then it’s time for champagne, bubbles and coffee. Every day. I love wine, beautiful locations, art, museums, classical music and opera. And that’s why when there is a world or European festival of classical music I go, for example Alexander Ekman’s show in Stockholm and I know to spend two thousand euros just to see his show and come back. Or the pianist Lang Lang, I’ve been to Anna Netrebko’s concerts six times, Domingo three times, Carreras several times, I’ve even been to the three tenors, Pavarotti Domingo Carreras when they only had six concerts, in Australia, Paris, Los Angeles, Vienna, Tokyo…

 

*So you have a lot, a lot of money that you spend on your own pleasure, because you also work and earn a lot.

– Yes. I’ve had a house for 12 years and that’s enough, and the rest is just for bread and life. *Your house is deluxe and directly enters the sea. – Almost. The house is beautiful. Old town seaside architecture.

*Do you have friends every day?
– No, I receive very few people in my house. And there is no bell to ring. Everything is in code. If I see who it is, I don’t call my cell phone. I’m gone.
*But you go out every day.
– Sometimes I am at home very little. I, if during the whole year I’m only two months in that small town of Piran, which is officially like a small Venice, and when I’m at home, I go to Trieste in Italy, it’s 15 minutes away, I go for a Campari or a coffee in Italy. Even when I’m at home, I still have to go somewhere…

*Have you tried Macedonian wine, it is also famous.

-Many times.

*Do you like it?

– Yes. I like it because it’s a little sweet, it’s not South African, and yet it’s quite cheap. It is too cheap, for such a quality wine. Because in us, you can buy it in all mercators on the shelf with many other different wines from all over the world and even from Macedonia, and even many, many different wines of yours.

*Let’s talk a little more about Eurovision. You are now the sixth time here and you are always in some variant to promote your country because people here know you, love you very much and know you and you are like a brand.

– Yes, I’m coming to make a nice promotion.

*You do it in an elegant and unobtrusive way, you draw our attention to your singer with dignity.

-That is it. Yes, completely different than some who are in favor of variety – let’s vote, vote. If you want, you can vote yourself. If not, just look.

*What are your top Eurovision festivals?

– I was in Paris 110 times. I love Paris the most in the world, in New York 40, Barcelona 50, and in my Israel only ten times. One of those times I was at Eurovision. Unfortunately since a year ago and now many friends have unkind words, but I still love my friends from Israel and I still don’t politicize, I won’t defend anyone but still Israel you know they have Shabbat every Friday night until Saturday night, when nothing works not even trains or buses. It is very beautiful there at every moment. In fact, you and me we were together at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel and you know how wonderful it was in Tel Aviv, but also in Jerusalem when we were there, with our wonderful friend Daniel. Tel Aviv, Lisabon and Rotterdam- these are three top organizations.

*Which singers you were with in the slovenian delegation?

– Mostly I go independently, not as a delegation, but I support them, from Tinkara Kovacs, to Lea Sirg, to the duet in Israel – Zala Kralj & Gashper Chantl and now Sarah (Raiven). I get accreditation based on my pedigree and help with promotion. I have half a million followers on social media.

 

*Let’s continue the conversation in Skopje.

– Yes, yes, yes, because now, my dear, there is a direct flight from Ljubljana with affordable plane tickets of 50 euros, so I will come for good food and wine, and to greet my dear friends from Opera Ballet, but also Igor Kirov, he is a great friend of mine. Now he works with my ballerina. I have had two ballerinas in my dance theater for 41 years. They were four years old when they came to my school – Mojca Majcen is now taking a break because she had her first child, and Eva Jankovic already has two children, and they both have successful careers. In a few days Eva and I are going to Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.

*After so many trips, your conclusion is: Is the world beautiful or can we make it even more beautiful?

– It is very beautiful, and we should make it even more beautiful. I’m sorry that the last 20 years we have done so badly with ecology, if I had any power I would ban plastic. Let’s leave politics and wars in the world. It has always been. I wouldn’t even talk more about Israel, because many friends who love Eurovision didn’t come to Malmö because of that, even Marlena from “Sister”, because she was against RTL Slovenia not against Israel singing at this Eurovision. RTL Slovenia gave approval for Israel to sing. Some people really resented this war of Israel so much that it’s unbelievable, but I still say- the politics is one thing, maybe it’s just a question of who is with whom, and it’s also about America’s money for armaments, that’s why the dollar so and grew up. Everything depends on what will happen now that there will be elections in America and who will win. I still say- listen to me my golden people, Israel was attacked and is defending itself, and think what happened to them 80 years ago. We know what I’m talking about. How many of them suffered in Austria and Germany …
*Thank you, let’s continue the conversation in Macedonia.
– I love you, I love you, I love you and Macedonia, my sweetheart, and let’s continue to travel everywhere around the world.
*Accepted, dear Mister Amazing. Thank you very much!

Valentina Gjorgievska Pargo

 

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