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‘Nou Pois Äläud’: Exhausting, and totally worth it!

Update #155

Participants at weekend rahvatants workshop 'Nou Pois Äläud' at Jõekääru, nurse overworked smiling muscles

Women in Estonian folk costume
Post-performance group shot with instructors. Photo: Peeter Põldre

Smiling muscles may have been the most exercised of all by the more than 50 dancers at the September 9-11 2022 "Nou Pois Äläud" weekend folkdance workshop held at Jõekääru, ON.

After an intense 36 hours of learning dances, the weekend was capped off midday on Sunday, with a lively performance of five of the seven dances learned, for friends and family, as well as for the Jõekääru Community Association of local residents.

Photos by Peeter Põldre

Dancers, ranging in age from 18-80, signed up for the first North American women's dance workshop. Leading the instruction were Marika Järvet and Ave Anslan, who arrived from Estonia the night before camp started. The instructors also head up the Estonian Women's Dance Festival, which took place for the third time this summer. Ellen Valter was the driving force behind the weekend workshop and organized under the Estonian Arts Centre, the charity associated with KESKUS International Estonian Centre.

Marika and Ave received a standing ovation at the end of the camp, and presented every dancer and helper with a Women's Dance Festival pin.

Photos by Peeter Põldre

Katrin Kütti-Otsa, head chef for the weekend, created a tasty and nutritious, light menu that aligned with the considerable physical exercise that camp participants undertook, and ensured all dietary and medical considerations for participants were addressed, deliciously. Helping Katrin were Kai Eichenbaum and Rita Kütti, with the gracious assistance from ... men: Valdeko Novek, Robert Hiis, Miku Linkruus, Mehdi Attarha, Allan Seim, and Toomas Kütti. Miku Linkruus is also to be thanked for looking after the audio requirements for the performance.

Photos by Peeter Põldre

As bonuses, Viive Tork-Hiis gave a talk "Dance as Spiritual Ritual in our Ancestors' Belief System", and, to mix things up a bit, Bobby Chong, already a favourite among Estonian sororities, led an hour of linedancing. A good hot sauna was a necessary reward at the end of each day. Dance camp participants helped out in every way possible, including Johanna Helin who took charge of the sauna, and Kersti Hansen looked after lifeguarding.

Photos by Bobby Chong, Riina Makk, and Peeter Põldre

As the first women's folkdance weekend workshop for participants across North America came to a close, the feeling was unanimous: exhausting and totally worth it! At the lunch following the performance, the group agreed: let's do this again, and often, and as things go, see if we can get good enough to make the cut for Tantsupidu 2025.

The weekend workshop took place at Jõekääru on September 9-11. Jõekääru is an Estonian children's summer campground and an event venue about an hour's drive north of Toronto.

"Nou Pois Äläud"was organised by arts charity Estonian Arts Centre, the charity associated with KESKUS International Estonian Centre and supported by Estonian Foundation of Canada, Estonian-American National Council, and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Kultuurkapital).

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