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Powerful stuff or how the children visited Disney On Ice

On 13 February, 200 participants from substitute homes and safe houses saw the ice dancing tour Disney On Ice, at Saku Suurhall. There they were able to meet characters from many of their favourite films, enjoy beautiful ice dancing, and listen to lovely music.

“Cool!” – this is how a 12-year-old boy from Haiba summarised the performance skilfully, adding, “Love sure is powerful, but I have yet to learn to skate”.

We got many other colourful impressions worth sharing from the children and their teachers.

Many fairy-tales came to life

What do you associate with the words “theatre” and “childhood”? It might just be the excitement that hit us one morning during childhood, when mother began laying out our best clothes for our trip to the theatre. Or is it the hectic joy that tickled us at the precise moment when the lights went out and the show started. It can also be a joyful day at the theatre with your own children or grandchildren.
Every day when a child can see a great performance is like a fairy-tale come to life.

The waiting and preparing

The opportunity to see the show was very important for the children. It was also evident from the fact that they even agreed to postpone their visits home.

Many children and their teachers had done their homework carefully before the show. Children from Tudulinna, for example, looked at pictures of the characters they would be seeing on the ice. They also watched a promotional clip for the performance online and talked about what they were expecting from the day. The girls were especially excited to meet Elsa and Anna, from the animated film “Frozen”. 

There is not a single little girl in the Käopesa family home, in Tartu, whose greatest heroines and role models are not the princesses Elsa and Anna. This time, most of the children who came along on the trip to Tallinn were those who had only recently moved into the family home. Besides seeing their favourite characters, another perk for the children was to come to Tallinn, the magical place which did not exist on their maps of personal experience before.

A nourishing meal before the show

To keep their little stomachs from grumbling while watching the performance, a buffet table with all kinds of treats was set up for the children at the restaurant on the second floor of Saku Suurhall. A solid meal was what many of them needed, as they could barely eat with all the anticipation in the morning.

And then it began!

For one young child from Tartu, it was the first visit to Saku Suurhall. So, there was a bit of anxiety: “How are we going to find our seats? It’s like a labyrinth in here, where one can easily get lost.” Luckily, everyone found their places and the show could begin. 

Before the performance, the announcer let everyone know that they can engage with the show any way they like. Young Liisu then said that she is going to clap so hard that everyone will hear her.
With excitement, the small girl from Vinni whispered “Wow!” in her teacher’s ear. So, the teacher realised that something beautiful was about to happen. And there it was!

Everyone received a beautiful experience from the show

Many of the children were doing all they could to take in what they saw and heard. They oohed and aahed over the magnificent costumes and were left in wonder by the seemingly impossible stunts. Later, the topic of talk in many homes was whether the snow that fell during the performance was real or not. 

The show definitely left a strong impression on the children. For a four-year-old girl from Nõmme, the whole show was jaw-dropping. Little Ruslik thought actual lion cubs were skating on the ice, and that he would soon be travelling to Neverland with Peter Pan. 

Children from Viljandi County remembered the big crocodile from Peter Pan and Ursula the Sea Witch from the Little Mermaid. The unanimous favourites of almost all of the girls were Elsa, Anna and Olaf. The costumes were so lifelike that some of the children sincerely believed that the characters had stepped straight out of the films.

While boys are usually not the biggest fans of ballet and dancing, they told their friends back at home that ice dancing is actually pretty cool and fun to watch. The dancing was accompanied by familiar music, and a fascinating story unfolded on the stage. 

By the end of the performance, at least the hands of the children from Kiikla were red from all the clapping because they were sad that the show had to end. One of the children from Tallinn said that “the show was a bust, as it ended too soon.”

Most of the children knew the songs from the show by heart and sang them during their ride back.

Small fans

One four-year-old boy from Tallinn was very deeply moved by what he had seen and experienced, and kept repeating “How beautiful!” and “So beautiful!” upon seeing new characters and events. This is a very brave little boy, who is musical and loves to dance. During the performance he kept jumping off his seat to dance along, his eyes sparkling with joy and emotion. 

Little Riko was also thrilled right from the start. What he loved the most were the fireworks, lights, sparks and cars. He was the only one from his home to have his picture taken. Of course, he was very proud of it. 

Mari Liis said that the whole show was lovely and time just flew by. It was actually surprising to hear this from her, as usually she is not the biggest fan of theatre and is very modest about expressing her emotions.

The experience was great even for those children whose mother tongue is not Estonian. Artom, Sergei and Viktor, from Tallinn, did ask at first, why the show is not in Russian. When the teacher explained that it is very important to learn Estonian, as they are living in Estonia, then the boys understood and kept watching the show attentively.

Role models inspire

Two children from Viimsi watched the events on the ice with a professional eye, so to say, and were in awe of what they saw. One of them practised figure skating a few years ago, and another is a member of the Rullest Sports Club. 

The children were astonished to hear that there are sometimes two to three shows in a single day. They immediately started wondering how the performers are able to stay in their costumes for so long. The older children understood that skating like that is the result of hard work and discipline. Many of them were inspired by the show to do something amazing themselves.

One 11-year-old young lady from Nõmme already said that she wanted to become a figure skater. She was not taken aback by all the falls and hard work she must face to reach her goal. Although the girl had talked about wanting to skate earlier, she used to be very intimidated about the possibility of falling. This was a chance for her to get a lot of encouragement.

A reasonable decision

The children of one home in Tartu were initially sad that they could not purchase the expensive toys sold during intermission. But after talking things over, they reached the decision together to buy thematic jigsaw puzzles, cartoons and colouring books for the home, which everyone there could enjoy.

A picture with their favourite character

After the show each family had a photo opportunity with their favourite characters. Queuing for the picture took a bit of patience, as there were many children. However, it was all worth it. After all, they each received a photo of themselves that they could proudly show their friends.

A lot of them really wanted to get a picture with Elsa and Anna. To the children’s delight, their wish came true. When seeing the characters up close, one of the children said that this must be a miracle.

Tired, but happy

It was impossible not to notice the sense of satisfaction in the children’s eyes that night. And what is more important: it had sparked a wish in them to experience something like this in the future. They asked about the next performance, and several of the homes are planning to watch the animated films from which the characters in the show originated. The children are now interested in fairy-tales they were not familiar with before the show.

Many of them were actually breathless when sharing their experiences. Little Diana said that it is impossible to convey in words; instead, it is something that has to be seen.

The day was great also for the teachers. Teacher Annely, for example, wrote: “It was great for me to accompany the children, because it was nice to see a sparkle in their eyes and listen to their childlike discussions and questions”.

The trip to Tallinn and back gave many teachers the chance to form a deeper relationship with the children. It was especially important to talk to the older ones, who will be leaving the family soon. They were assured that the teachers and the home will be there for them in the future, and they are always welcome to visit, write and call.

The teachers found that each of the joint events, dinners and finding of one’s seats empowers the children. They gain new knowledge and skills each time.

It was also said that shows like this one spread positive energy, expand the world view, and encourage the children to dream bigger.

Triin Lumi
Non-Profit Association SEB Heategevusfond


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