The song and dance festival for young people, originally scheduled for 2022, has been postponed for a year and will take place in June 2023 due to the pandemic. This is in addition to the general song and dance festival that will take place in 2025, ETV’s “Aktuaalne kaamera” reported on Sunday.

Tallinn Dance Academy artistic director Märt Agu said several dance festivals and county celebrations have been postponed or moved to the schedule. “We are in a situation today, where we do not have a clear direction, because many are resigning. This is not only seen in the capital, but also in other places,” said Agu.

Sirle Arro, a dancer, told ERR that dance celebrations are an essential form of expression for dancers and coaches. Another dancer, Madis Lepp, told the ERR that workouts have become rarer and that the cancellation of practices due to restrictions or the spread of the coronavirus has become a common occurrence.

Kristiina Siig, a teacher at the folk dance club at Lycée Français de Tallinn, Kristiina Siig, said they have more dancers than ever before as recent competition results have boosted popularity.

For a while, dance groups could only practice outdoors. On the one hand, the children went out into the great outdoors, but on the other hand, it is difficult to perfect one’s technique without mirrors. It doesn’t mean trying to teach someone to dance using a computer.

“There were a lot in elementary school who didn’t come to Zoom practices. But when the real practices came back, the students also came back. When we got back to Zoom, they didn’t follow. And then they didn’t come back a second time, “says Siig.

Finding replacement dancers has also become a problem since unvaccinated dancers cannot join their vaccinated partners until at least mid-January. “We find dancers very quickly and sometimes we don’t find anybody at all. Either they don’t fit emotionally or they lack skills,” said Märt Agu.

The restrictions and uncertainty could eventually make their way into the dances, Agu said. There must be eight women and eight men in the dance groups for the dance festival, but if someone consistently misses practices it affects the overall performance.

“You cannot cancel the workouts, we will always do our best to maintain the level. But it will unfortunately go down if there are gaps and you have to dance with an imaginary partner,” noted Agu.

Kristiina Siig said maybe folk dancing should have to adapt to the specifics of a world riddled with coronavirus, where coaches aren’t sure if their group is together until they’re supposed to perform.

“Should this start to affect our repertoire?” Could it be danced with six pairs, seven pairs, five pairs or maybe an odd number of dancers? These are the most likely questions. How will this affect our traditions in the long run? Said Siig.

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