For the thirties time the West Coast Estonian Days are about to begin. This time they will be held in Portland, Oregon. Already reinforcements have arrived from Estonia: from Pärnu dancers from the folkdance collective Kajakas, and from Tallinn musicians to complement Portland’s band. The opening ceremony will occur in midtown of Portland on August 3. This will be followed by four days during which the participants can enjoyed Estonia’s varied forms of culture.
A couple words of the Kajakas dance collective. It is based in Pärnu and is divided into six groups, half of them are classified as youth collectives. These can be proud of themselves having been chosen competitively to perform at the recent Song and Dance Festival “Maa ja Ilm”. 18 youths of this collective have just arrived here who paid for their own plane tickets. The program calls for them to dance together with the West coast Estonian dance groups as well as separately.
The musicians Ahto Nurk and Virve Lääne from Tallinn just participated the Europe-wide Europead, a dance festival that was held in Tartu in mid July, and drew about 6000 participants. Ahto and Virve lead the orchestra of Estonian’s directors of folk music orchestras. Here in Portland they joined the local band “Hapsala”. The members of the now expanded band can be seen in the photo: Erik Teose, Liina Teose, Ahto Nurk, Virve Lääne, Bim Krumhansl, Maarika Teose and Alar Teose,
The Estonian community of Portland is not large, numbering perhaps around a hundred people, but it ranks high among the remaining active Estonian communities of North America. The active communities have shrunk in numbers so that there may be but half a dozen left. Portland has an active folkdance club, a choir, a children’s choir, church and an assembly of harp-players. The community has succeeded to hold its younger generation engaged, by being sensitive to their needs. Their folkdance club is very active, drawing participants outside the Estonian community. The rehearsals are held in English. Its experienced instructor has been Liina Teose who has taught folk dancing for 26 years.
The organizers of the days intentionally invited from Estonia’s youth dance groups, so as to lay seeds for forming friendships across the ocean. The youths are housed and feed by the Portland’s Estonians for the duration of their stay, which extends over a week after the conclusion of the days. The extra time will give the quests to visit the natural wonders of Oregon.
At the time of writing this, the rehearsals were in full swing. On the photo are Kajaka and Portland`s folk dancers rehearsing their combined dance numbers for the folk festival. On the photo, in the middle, is Ulla Helin, one of the stagers of the recent Song and Dance festival in Tallinn.
(This article was received by Estonian Life a few days prior to the opening of the West Coast Estonian Days at which time use of the future tense above was still approriate. Weekly periodicals are always at the mercy of late submissions.)
The West Coast Estonian Days are about to commence