Estonian Dance and Song Festivals 2014

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Estonian call themselves a singing nation, they couldn’t be wrong as singing is deeply anchored in their culture. They have sang to get Freedom, and nowadays they perpetuate this feature to show the world how attached and proud of their culture they are.

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Open outdoor practice under the rain

One this year Estonia celebrated the 26th Song Festival and it happened Dance Festival was in the same week! I never attended any of them and I was very curious!

Dance Festival practice is Õismäe

Dance Festival practice is Õismäe

Heikki, my Taiwanese buddy has attended many dancing courses in Tallinn during his year in Estonia. I didn’t know that he was going to participate to this very important event until he proposed me to come and watch the last official practice, in Õismäe.

It took place few days before the main date, the rain has come and made that practice more complicated. Not a problem for dancers who all wore protections. Since he was dancing Heikki couldn’t have his phone and I had to find him in the crowd… I found him in the middle of thousand Estonians, the only Asian!

Conditions were not the best for photos and somehow I haven’t took with me my super motivation, I was mostly curious on how things would be there :) One lady on a stage was repeating Uks-Kaks–Kolm in a microphone and people dancing on her words.

Sneaking to the dance festival

Here is my little happiness. I wasn’t planing to go and see the Dance Festival but I wanted to make photos of Estonians in their traditional costumes, I knew I could find them walking around the Kalev stadium. I followed them till the main gate where two guards stood to prevent non-authorized people to get in.

I stood next to them for 15 minutes making some nice photos until they got busy with a group, I immediately used this occasion and jumped in the paid-area without anyone to notice me, saving about 17 euros! I didn’t feel bad as I had to meet with a friend a hour after the opening ceremony. Attending the performance wasn’t my aim here.

Actually most of the time I was simply walking around with people preparing themselves or looking for their seats. That was a good moment, it was very hot and everybody were tensed and looking busy, trying to release stress by doing some games or jokes.

The Dance Festival started with a parade in the stadium, in which my fellow taxi-bikes took part, followed by children entering stadium holding each others hands, forming long lines.

About 15 minutes after the first dance, I was leaving, using the same gate I entered and took my bus to see a football match with my best friend.

Estonian dancers

Estonian dancers

Official parade from centre to Lauluväljak

Folloing the Dance Festival is the Song Festival! I had the visit of my former erasmus buddy Alan who chose the right dates because! Our first activity was to attend it. From Mustamäe Our trolley stopped in Koidu because all the city centre was closed for the occasion. This big national event being organize only once in a five years!

From Koidu we could already see a large amount of people, all dressing well, and walking to Vabaduse Valjak we never ceased to see more and more people! That was incredible. I could say that literally all Estonian were that day in Tallinn!

From the square we followed the flow, going to Lauluväljak. We walked fast… but just as fast as them. When we arrived we watched for half a hour the parade entering the singing ground sitting near the main entrance. When we got hungry we took some snacks on the cafeteria and a beer, it was a secure area and impossible to drink outside of it.

I have no idea how many people were in the parade, but they keep entering continuously until the opening ceremony began.. four hours later! As I said it has never had a break, and speakers announced a group every 20 seconds!

Parade on Narva mnt

Parade on Narva mnt

A long start

As we came early we had to wait for hours, boringly sitting on our bench to be sure to have a place close to the stage, before hearing any songs. At one point the empty hall got full, singers ran on it to fill all lines, a little surprisingly since no announcement were made

They started playing with audience, warming us before the actual begining  We were push to make the « hola » with them like we were in a football stadium. At first it was cool but after 30 minutes of back and forth it got really annoying for me.

It is only when they started to sing that I was happy to have bought my ticket and stayed in Estonia instead of going to France.

I am attending an impressive performance

When it actually started, we were decided to stay until the end, thinking to attend a very euphoric moment. It wasn’t totally what I got. Remaining good, the festival didn’t bring me to the level I idealized it. It alternated awesome nice singing with plate orchestral music, with in between long and silent breaks. To long for me.

Despite of that I cannot consider the festival as bad, nor regret to have attend it. It has something special, a very unique spirit and I think my major problem that was I couldn’t understand Estonian speeches or songs, that would obviously give more meaning to all of this afternoon!

Little girl wath the chord

Little girl watch the chord

Tallinn Singing ground

Tallinn Singing ground

When the sun was going away, we chose to go home to change clothes and go to city centre, surprisingly we were not the only ones to do so, as a lot of people ran into buses or preferred to walk to a tramway.

Guillaume Speurt

Guillaume Speurt

French settled in Estonia, I have spent my last years in the Baltic States. I love photography and travelling in Eastern and Central Europe, I write this blog to relate my experiences.
Guillaume Speurt

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