Estonia – a tiny country in northern Europe, with only 1.3 Mio inhabitants. For many people it is not that popular. But indeed, it is offering loads of interesting sides! Estonians are called „singers and dancers“. This is actually a very important part of their culture.
There is a diversity of traditional dances and for Estonians it is important to keep them.
But what do youngsters think about folkdancing? Is it only a hobby for old people or are young people interested in learning these traditional dances aswell? As a member of a dancing group in Valga, South Estonia, I asked the other youngsters about this topic.
In fact, folkdancing is more popular for old people than for youngsters. But nevertheless, there exist young dancing groups too. Many of the members said that they chos folkdance because it is special. Some of them already tried other dance styles, like hiphop or showdance, but as they didn‘t like it that much, they tried folkdance. And they say that it was such a good choice! It‘s also a good chance to meet new people, finding new friends. Most of the dances are group dances, that means that you always have to look for the other dancers aswell. As a result, no one dances alone. Instead all the dancers interact with each other and belong to the same “team.” Inside the group, between the members, there is a friendship and a good work together.
In addition, folkdancing is sport: you‘re body becomes more flexible and your coordination will be trained. Another aspect is that you are getting traditional knowledge. For example the clothes: These are linen shirts and wool skirts with stripes, colorful belts and ribbons. Every single region has its own colours and its own meaning for those. In addition, many people wear a brooche.
To the question about their favourite dance, the majority answered that it is „Tuljak“. „Tuljak“ is one of the most important dances, you could call it the „anthem of the dances“.
It‘s a very fast one with lively music in the background. The plot of this dance is about the relationship between men and women. The dancers do not only follow a choreography – emotions and feelings are included aswell. The man is following the woman, but she is ignoring him, afterwards she wants to come back to him, but now he is the one who turns his head away... In between and for sure also finally in the end they take the other‘s hand and dance together. You could describe it as a „game“ between the pair.
One big dream of probably every dancing group is to go to the big singer and dance festival (laulu- ja tantsupidu) in Tallinn. This is probably one of the „most Estonian adventure“ you can ever have. More than 40,000 people are joining and presenting these traditional dances and songs in Kalevi staadionil. But not every one can participate: dancing groups have to qualificate already some months before. They have to show the dances and present their skills and a jury is deciding who is allowed to join. That means hard training for every single dancing group.
On singers and dancers festival Estonians are having a special feeling of community and unit. Their culture is like a connection between everyone.
For me, as a German girl, who had no experiences about traditional dances before, it is so interesting to have such a detailed view into this part of Estonian culture. Going to the dance festival would be so great.
Dancing grop „Sikutajad“ in Valga