Tartu’s invitation to feel the joy of folk dance and music

  • 2011-07-06
  • By Sam Logger

HAND-IN-HAND: The festival’s roots go back to 1964, as European nations came together to renew their ancestry through music and dance.

TARTU - With popular music dominating the stage of the entertainment industry, other genres of music seem to be left in the shadow. Moreover, traditional dance may also have the same fate. That is just a first impression, though. Every community works hard to retain its traditions, as entertainment is really not just the events we mainly see on TV. The 48th European Folk Dance and Music Festival, or simply the Europeade 2011, this year shows its heart and passion in Tartu, Estonia, from July 20 – 24.

The roots of the festival can be found in 1964 when the first Europeade was seen in Antwerp, ignited by the idea of Mon De Clopper. The general idea of the event was obvious – to construct a new Europe with the help of the young who understand the significance of history. Thus, the nations of Europe came along to demonstrate their knowledge about their ancestry through dance and music. This is how Europeade lives today! Expressing culture, it outlines the differences in the European communities, but also proves their common features. Supposedly this is what the Constitutional act of the Europeade says, stating that the festival “is the expression of a belief in the friendship and brotherhood between the peoples of the European continent, founded on the idea of ‘unity in diversity.’” Hence, every festival takes place in a different city each year, and this time it is Tartu.

At the end of July, Tartu seemingly becomes the destination for the Europeade values’ admirers as the program indicates various shows worthy of watching and listening. Along with the singing and dancing events, the festival also presents a photo exhibition dedicated to 47 years of Europeade at Song Festival Museum. Additionally, on the last day, July 24, all visitors are to cheer up the participants who will gather for the Europeade parade to Festival Arena. Of course, the main emphasis is still on folk music and dance, and, therefore, it is advisable to visit at least one concert as the folk traditions are beautiful in their pureness and ease, as well as in their fragility and immortality. Whether there is a choice in favor of Town Hall Square, where the most diverse concerts are going to happen, or Festival Arena where the major Europeade performances will be seen, everyone is about to explore new depths of different nations.

Providing the unity of Europe, there is a chance to locate Finnish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, German, French, Spanish traditions and many more as the distance spreads from Greenland to Cyprus! “It is an opportunity for the participants and tourists to get to know Estonia and our culture, and for Estonians to get to know different cultures of Europe,” Ants Johanson, the project manager of Europeade, notes. In five days, 27 countries with a total of 3,000 participants will create a true Europeadic mood in the streets of Tartu.

Tartu is the first Estonian town to host the festival, but Estonia itself is the last country of the Baltic States to have it. All three Baltic countries are famous for their folk festivals which honor their traditions in choir music and national dances. For instance, Baltic Song and Dance Festivals are officially a part of UNESCO’s recognized heritage. Certainly it plays a huge role in the appraisal of the spoken culture on the European level, thus Estonia can be deservedly called one of the countries which protects its national culture, and passes it on to the next generations. It needs to be added that Europeade 2011 merges with Tallinn being the European Capital of Culture this year. It serves as more proof of Estonia’s willingness to set an example of how to combine the old culture with the new.

Europeade is probably the most unique festival in Europe, as it defines a nation’s traditions in practice, rather than explaining them on paper. It is a chance to enjoy the brilliance of European culture, which is diverse in its performance but similar in its emotions. When Europe comes together in one town to tell and show its amazing history, it is almost a wrongdoing not to see it!