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A fairy tale that speaks without words

At the end of January, children from shelters and substitute homes visited the Estonian National Opera to see Gyula Harangozo’s incomparable ballet for the entire family Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Prior to the performance, those who were interested were able to go on a backstage tour and take part in a ballet workshop.

The day before the trip to the theatre, families spent time remembering the old fairy tale of Snow White. In one family, a volunteer from Ukraine watched Snow White videos with the children and read them the story, and the children recalled the names of the seven dwarfs.

In another family, Marek and his teacher read fairy tales for a whole week, discussing the characters within. Marko, who lives with a family in Tartu County, read the book himself, since one never knows with ballet – it’s good to keep up to speed with the characters and what’s going on.

Why you aren’t allowed on stage with street shoes

Before the performance, the children went on a backstage tour. The guide told them interesting stories about the backstage world. They checked out how decorations and costumes were made. The children had the opportunity to try on stylish headgear. Dwarfs in makeup were bustling about in the corridors...

The children really wanted to go out on stage, but the guide explained that wearing street shoes on the stage is prohibited and that only people wearing pointe shoes or indoor footwear were allowed on stage. The stage must be especially clean for the dancers!

The children had the opportunity to participate in a workshop, where ballet was discussed and some basic steps were taught, for example, the correct positions for the legs. The professional dancers responsible for carrying out the workshop established a good rapport with the children, and the children actively took part.

When the performance began, all of the children were quiet as church mice; all of their attention was focused on the stage until the end of the performance. Everything was so beautiful – the decorations, ballerinas, and staging.

A performance full of tricks and miracles

The majority of children knew the story that the ballet was telling, but the performance itself exceeded expectations, engaging even the most restless children. Some of the children had already seen this performance before in the Estonia Theatre, for the most part already knowing what would take place on stage.

The performance was full of tricks and visual surprises. The public was in a special mood, the children cheered on the dancers and clapped in a carefree manner. The music was very enthralling and the characters were striking and recognisable. There was no long prelude, the story began right away. The children found it easy to follow the performance and they clearly understood what was going on and, of course, each child found their own personal favourite.

Martin liked how Grumpy got stuck in a barrel, and how the others helped pull him out. He found this to be very funny. The girls’ favourite was Happy, and the actor played the part wonderfully: shining and talking with the audience the whole time. Marek cheered on Doc through his troubles. Doc’s actions had Marko shaking his head on occasion, but he also made you laugh a lot. The dwarfs were the favourites of all the children. They also liked the beautiful Snow White a lot. Afterwards, Marek was so proud that he was able to have his picture taken with Doc and get his autograph in the book.

The stage design, which was beautiful on many different levels, wowed Marek several times. Excitement was added by bangs, fire and smoke. Monika very much enjoyed the dance choreography, which marvellously conveyed the essence of the characters. She especially remembered the performance of the stepmother role.

When the children were remembering the most vivid moments following the performance, it was mentioned that the story talks about friendship and cooperation, the ability to make jokes and be happy, to be good and not hurt others.

Ballet takes people’s minds off of their everyday lives

At the end of the performance the entire hall gave the performers a long round of applause. Five-year-old Aleksandra, clapped so hard that her hands began to hurt. The teacher suggested that she clap on her knees for a bit.

Keidy: ‘Thanks to the performance I was able to get my mind off of things. I was very familiar with the fairy tale and watched with great interest to see if I would recognise all of the dwarfs. I was surprised that without any words it is possible through ballet to convey everything so well, to recognise the characters and understand the entire fairy tale. The dwarf named Sleepy was especially awesome, since he kept falling asleep everywhere. Happy was so funny and cool that I started to smile myself’.

Marleen: ‘I liked the big magic mirror on stage, into which the stepmother was always looking and was told that Snow White was the fairest in the land. It was all so well staged. It was exciting to look at the decorations on stage, since we had visited the backstage world before the performance. Before the performance we even saw the dwarfs with only some of their makeup on, and then all 7 men were on stage at once. The end of the play had a very clever resolution. Doc slams the cover of the book closed next to the Stepmother and with that the fairy tale ends’.

I would watch it again!

Snow White offered positive emotions and warm feelings. The theme music for the dwarfs stuck in the heads of the children and was hummed during the ride home. On the way back, lively impressions of Snow White and the dwarfs were made. One of the children liked a dwarf, the other the special effects in the form of fireworks, while another liked the evil queen, especially her costume. And, of course, Snow White!

Marek emphasised to his teachers that if they were again offered tickets to the performance then they should definitely go, since he would really like to see it again! If there were any children that thought ballet was boring before the performance, then after seeing Snow White they had a different opinion. All of the children said that it was super and easy to understand.

Snow White’s autograph

The children were given a beautiful programme-book to take home with them, in which they busily collected autographs. The next day the teachers and children looked over the dwarfs in the programme, remembered the names of the dwarfs and glued pictures in the book. Snow White’s picture found a place of honour next to her autograph.

On the next working day, the smallest residents of the Tallinn shelter ran to meet their teacher, with Snow White programmes in hand. The children raced to show each other pictures and announced who was good and who was bad. An attempt was made to describe why one was good and another bad. The children said that the queen had been very beautiful, but also very mean. They also praised the dresses, and the music, and the decorations. Four-year-old Sandra placed a toy apple on her teacher’s desk, slyly smiling, knowing something about a poison apple...


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