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“Coppelia” enchanted children with beautiful music, costumes, and dance


On 22 February, at the initiative of and with support from SEB Heategevusfond, children from Estonian substitute homes and safe houses went to see a production of the ballet “Coppelia”, based on the short story “The Sandman” by E. T. A. Hoffmann, at the Estonian National Opera. A total of 229 children from Tartu, Tallinn and Viljandi, from Harju, Pärnu and Ida-Viru counties went to the theatre.

First, they were shown around the theatre. The props storage room and backstage area were also very exciting. When meeting the dancers, the children learned that a false nose and false hair can be put on people with the help of make-up. Now they have seen and touched it all! The children were excited to see the dancers and how make-up was applied to them, and were delighted to touch with their own hands the dresses and boots the actors wore on the stage.

Watching a ballet takes quite a lot of patience from children who have very little theatre experience, but the beautifully dressed ballet dancers and young men in fancy costumes were successful in attracting the children’s attention right from the very beginning: they enjoyed the beautiful music and costumes and the skills of the dancers.

After the performance, the children attended a ballet class. Some of the girls had already been there before, so they were looking forward to trying on the beautiful princess costumes and practise standing in ballet slippers. This was the highlight of the day for the girls! They also took photos with the actors. The little girls were really happy posing with the ballet dancers.

The teachers admitted that the opportunity to go to the theatre and experience a cultural event helps to balance the daily routine of school and the safe house, which can be burdensome at times with its many rules. The more they go to the theatre, the more the children start to enjoy the performances – at many homes, children no longer need to be cajoled into going; instead, they are glad to go and look forward to new performances. The younger the children are when introduced to the theatre, the more they are interested in everything – they get inspiration to do something, maybe even be on the big stage in the future.

As with all trips, this one also proved that cooperation is necessary in order to make sure that everybody feels good. 

The children who had not seen ballet at a theatre before thought it must be so hard to stand on your toes for that long, even though the dancers have practised it for a long time and it is their job. One thing definitely became clearer: every job needs to be done properly and practised a lot to get a good result. Some jobs are harder and some easier – these dancers have chosen their own jobs and, in doing so, give lots of beauty and pleasure to others.

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