The 20th Estonian Dance Celebration took place last week in a double celebration alongside the Song Celebration; Estonian World spoke with the Dance Celebration’s artistic director, Vaike Rajaste, about her experience directing more than 10,000 dancers.
The artistic director said she was pleased with how the three performances had turned out.
Rajaste told Estonian World that the performances, which took place on 4-5 July, had tied together two-and-a-half years of hard work. “It turned out very well,” she said, adding that it had been a big team effort.
Rajaste has 40 years of experience as a dance teacher and has worked with the song and dance celebration for 10 years. This was her first time acting as director and she said the experience had been positive.
She put herself forward for the position of artistic director when the competition opened in 2016. “If I don’t do it now, then I won’t do it. So the decision was easy,” she said. Her idea was to look back on the dance celebration’s 85-year history. She said lots of the choreography for this year’s event had been inspired by traditional songs and previous dances.
While the Song Celebration turned 150 this year – the 27th performance – the Dance Celebration is slightly newer tradition. But like the Song Celebration, Estonians from around the world came back to participate. Rajaste said everyone had to go through the same selection process and that there was no difference in the quality of the dancers, who are all amateur groups.
This year, 11,500 dancers took part – more than 700 groups – and they were selected from 15,000 people who auditioned. The groups came from the Estonia, the US, Canada, and all around Europe. It was the largest ever Estonian dance celebration to date.
See pictures (click to enlarge) of this year’s Dance Celebration below.
Cover: Kristjan, a member of the Tallinn University of Technology (Taltech) folk dance troupe, Kuljus, made a marriage proposal to his partner, Tiina, in the middle of the final performance of Dance Celebration (she said yes). Photo by Aivar Pihelgas. Photos by Sven Zacek, Aivar Pihelgas, Rein Leib, Rene Mitt and Toomas-Vahur Lihtmaa, courtesy of Song and Dance Celebration.