about

Kosta Karakashyan is a Bulgarian-Armenian director, choreographer, performer, and writer exploring empathy through movement and storytelling.

His work has been described as “an important voice for LGBTQ+ struggles in Chechnya and elsewhere” by The Columbia Spectator. A two-time Bulgarian National Ballroom Champion, Kosta has performed and choreographed on Dancing With the Stars Vietnam, Bulgaria’s Got Talent, and across Canada, Germany, Norway, Egypt, Vietnam, and Japan.

Kosta has worked with artists such as Rita Ora, Years and Years, Sherihan and Preyah, directors Jonathan Alric, Alaska, Manu Cossu and Will Hopper, and commercial clients Škoda, Calvin Klein, H&M, Kohler, Method, EE, Studio Zard, Florsheim, and SRB Paris (featured in Vogue Russia).

Bringing his experience of choreography and performance to the screen, Kosta has directed, produced, and choreographed numerous short films and videos through his production company Studio Karakashyan.

His work can be seen in television, film, and online, most notably the award-winning documentary dance film WAITING FOR COLOR about the ongoing LGBTQ+ persecution in Chechnya, awarded the Prix Lumière at Cinédanse Festival Ottawa 2019. WAITING FOR COLOR has been selected at over 20 festivals worldwide and featured by The Guardian, Elle Magazine, Bloomberg, them, GLAAD, and Radio Free Europe. The Guardian wrote: “Karakashyan moves with hard jolts and swift stealth, a body of expression, skill, and power; a body standing its ground and not about to give up.”

Karakashyan is known as a poetic storyteller of reality. His choreographic voice weaves together drama, intimacy, and visceral physical expression. His movement language incorporates ballroom dance, contemporary techniques, and improvisation, exploring tenderness and authenticity.

His commissions include works for nontraditional sites, public spaces, theater, dance, film, fashion, and branded work. Projects include partnerships with HRC Culinary Academy, Single Step Foundation, the National Culture Fund of Bulgaria. As a choreographer for the stage, Karakashyan has created works for dance companies including Columbia Ballet Collaborative (New York) and Ballet Arabesque (Bulgaria). His work has been presented by DNK – space for contemporary dance and the Barnard College Movement Lab.

He is a graduate of Columbia University in New York (BA in Dance) and the Global Campus of Human Rights (European Master’s) in Venice, Italy, which has informed his style of work – inquisitive and based in compassion, social justice, and innovation. As an artist working in the field of dance, Kosta is a passionate advocate of the physical, mental, and social benefits dance can bring into our lives, elaborating these concepts in his TedX speech “Connecting through dance“. In addition to directing, Kosta teaches improvisation, contemporary technique, camera performance, and dance film workshops around Europe.

He has also written essays and dance criticism for Springback Magazine, Dance Magazine, DanceTabs, Fjord Review, lowercase magazine, and BOYSCOUT and was selected as an Aerowaves Springback Academy dance writer in 2019. Kosta has also served as Director of Innovation & Marketing on the board of HLAB, an international summer school in Japan.

For his work as an LGBTQ+ artist and activist, Kosta has been recognized with the Edgar Richards Scholarship from the Maranatha Ministry at Riverside Church and the Tuk-Tam Foundation Scholarship to pursue a Master’s in Human Rights and Democratization. He was part of David France’s BAFTA-winning, Emmy-nominated documentary feature film Welcome to Chechnya as a face double protecting the anonymity of the real subjects of the film. He was also part of activist Remy Bonny’s 
Top 10 LGBTI Individuals of 2019 list and has presented his activism work at UPenn’s Perry World House. He is the creator and founding editor-in-chief of Out.bg, a Bulgarian LGBTQ+ community platform, featured on BBC World Service OS and The New East is Queer.