Lastega ja lastele

Auhinnaga „Lastega ja lastele“ täname ja tunnustame inimesi ja organisatsioone, kelle uued algatused või pikemaajaline tegevus on positiivselt mõjutanud laste ja perede käekäiku.
Tunnustusauhinna taotluste voor on avatud 15. aprillini.

Esita taotlus

Who fell asleep at the performance? Why, the Sleeping Beauty, of course!

In March, children from safe homes and substitute homes all over Estonia enjoyed the fascinating ballet “Sleeping Beauty”, at the Estonian National Opera, thanks to the support of the SEB Heategevus Fund. In addition to the wonderful performance, the children enjoyed another great experience – a tour of the backstage area – where they were able to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the magical world.

What is it about? Good triumphs over evil

Before the Sunday theatre visit, the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty was read, so the children would better understand the action on stage. Ballet must be understood without words, after all!

Tatyana knew: “The performance is in two parts, and there is this beautiful Princess and a Prince, and the Princess is the child of the King and the Queen.” Aleksandra added: “There are fairies dancing and one of them is a Wicked Fairy Godmother.” Andra said: “The story goes that the Wicked Fairy Godmother wished the Princess harm, even death.” Mikhail added: “Good fairies rescue her, and the Princess does not die but falls asleep for a long time.”

The mother of the family explained that the performance ends with the Prince kissing the sleeping Princess and her waking up. The children understood that good triumphs over evil.

Tours of the city and behind the stage

One family reached Tallinn a little early and the children wished to be driven around the city to pass the time. The bus driver had nothing against it and so they took a quick sightseeing tour in the springtime city.

This time, the theatre visit started with a tour behind the stage. Many children were surprised that the theatre has its own shoemakers and seamstresses, making shoes and costumes in the theatre itself. They learned that, in addition to the dancers and ballerinas, many skilled people work in the theatre – prop makers, stage masters, painters, and makeup artists – every one of them having an important role to play.

They looked at the Painting Hall where a very large decoration covered the floor for a new performance. In the makeup hall, stage makeup was being applied to the dancer playing the Witch’s role, and the children were happy when they recognised her later on stage. It was exciting to watch how a man with hair became bald.

Costumes and requisites seen there were later joyfully recognised by the children. They were amazed by how those things appeared as if they were real on stage.

The orchestra pit and the possibility to raise the stage were also very exciting for the children. Arturo immediately asked where the button was that raises the stage. Additionally, the little red light was shown that ballerinas have to track while dancing, so that they don’t lose their balance. A lot of the children monitored that light themselves during the performance.

Many children had never been in the rooms behind the stage before – everything was very exciting and gripping. Afterwards, they discussed how much effort goes into a single performance, from decorations to costumes and makeup.

“I liked the makeup room, there were men with funny faces there,” commented one boy in the seventh grade.

Why is that man shaking a stick there?

Marek had never before been to a ballet and didn’t know what would happen. Before the start of the performance, the boy along with his educator went to peek at the musical instruments and the musicians in the orchestra.

Another boy said, while studying the schedule: “It is such an old performance!” – “How is it old?” the educator asked. Looking at the schedule together, they saw that the performance’s world premier was in 1890. With the use of some applied mathematics, they deduced that it happened 127 years ago. So the performance is really old!

Those in the front rows got a good look at the orchestra and the conductor. Some children could not understand why the man in the pit was shaking a stick. Sasha thought it was a “drunken man” and that the police should be called… The educator had reason to explain who the conductor was, what he was doing and what that “shaking a stick” meant.

Grand costumes and wonderful music

There was no need to interpret for those who know little Estonian, as there is no talking in ballet. Children enjoyed the beautiful music, graceful dance and beautiful costumes.

As Marek likes beautiful people and grand clothes, he saw just that on the stage when the curtains opened. One ballerina more beautiful than another – and wearing such beautiful costumes! But the most interesting character for Marek was Carabosse, the Wicked Fairy Godmother, who wore a snake on her head.

Marek did not like the very loud music, although he clearly enjoyed the quieter and more beautiful tracks. He noticed the melodic harp sounds and he also had a good view of the wonderful instrument from where he sat.

The performance lasted nearly three hours and it was quite a challenge for Marek to sit still for such a long time, but he did manage it.

To enjoy ballet, you need to have theatre experience

It was the first ballet visit for many of the children – several of them thought later that they like the ordinary theatre better after all. Yet, there are always those who are fascinated by ballet. Marko’s special needs make it difficult for him to understand spoken performances, so ballet is suitable and interesting for him. This is why Marko was very much looking forward to that performance.

Kevin said after the performance that “one person fell asleep”. The teacher first thought that it was someone among the audience (out of boredom), but then the boy explained that it was someone on the stage – Sleeping Beauty, duh…

Ten-year-old Alex was modest in his opinions. He said he looked more at the warriors and the Wicked Fairy Godmother. Well, that’s boys for you!

Seventeen-year-old Milena watched the dancers’ movement. She has attended ballet training and was able to look at the technical side of the dances.

Sasha liked the Wicked Fairy Godmother and her red snake eyes, the girls were taken by the Prince, and the boys snickered about the kiss that woke Sleeping Beauty.

But Laura became certain of her wish to become a ballerina. The only question was her “advanced” age: the girl worried that she was seven years old already but the preparations for a ballerina’s profession start at three years of age.

A million “why’s”

The first ballet experience was accompanied by quite a lot of “why”-questions that everyone tried to answer together.

- Why is the schedule written in English as well? – Because many foreigners also attend performances at the Estonian National Opera.
- Why is there a weird music before the performance? – This is how the instruments are tuned.
- Why are the curtains still closed when the music is already on? – The introductory music tunes the audience to the performance.
- Why is the orchestra in a pit? – Because the audience would not be able to see the stage otherwise.
- Why do the women have “wooden shoes” and the men do not? – Here, no reply was forthcoming…

The joy of recognition, and a new experience

The children recognised some of the characters on the stage and actively rooted for them.
During the first part, they tried to find the fairies – the Lilac Fairy, the Candor Fairy, the Vitality Fairy, the Generosity Fairy, the Eloquence Fairy or the Passion Fairy... During the second part, the children clapped their hands sore to the dances of various characters. Seeing Little Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Wolf, the Bluebird, Cinderella and Puss in Boots all invoked the joy of recognition. The Bluebird’s powerful leaps and pirouettes made for a great impression.

Tatyana: “I very much liked the Princess and her beautiful graceful dance and her fine white ballet dress!” Andra: “I liked the Princess, the Prince and the dances where many ballerinas danced together. Everyone has to dance at the same time there, so it becomes beautiful.”

Aleksandra: “The music was beautiful and the stage was nicely decorated.” Martin and Mikhail remembered the Wicked Fairy Godmother’s dance, who had danced with great force and high steps. Liza remembered the decorated swings where the Princess had slept.

The children were stunned by the multitude of dancers on the stage, the wonderful costumes and the powerful music. They wondered at the synchronous dances, the Princess’s graceful body and her posing arms. They were endlessly fascinated by dancing on tiptoes in the ballet shoes and by standing on tiptoes in one pose for a long time. The children concluded that ballet was a highly athletic and difficult activity and took a lot of time to learn.

“I liked how the Wicked Fairy Godmother left the stage and how the Prince found the Princess. I wondered how the actors can walk in pointe ballet shoes for so long,” said one girl from the fifth grade.

During the break, the children were able to ask the dancers for autographs and to take pictures with them.

The children were very attentive. They did not miss when an actor stumbled. One girl even planned to obtain such shoes for herself. She reasoned that they are simply so beautiful.

Every new experience encourages

For some children, the visit to the theatre provided an opportunity to be independent and courageous. Thus, a girl who arrived in Tallinn before the others had the opportunity to collect all of the other children’s’ tickets from the box office. She managed beautifully and was very proud of her new experience, too.

The seats were reviewed together, discussing whether someone wanted to sit in some other seat, to sit beside a friend. But the children liked it as it was; they found their seats on their own and felt good there. Exchanging their experiences during the break, they were very proud to be independent that way.

Enough emotions for several days

Returning form the theatre, the children had a lot of emotions and they discussed the visit in the bus the entire way back. The discussions continued the next day as well.

On the way home, they talked for a long time about the ballet, the characters and the dancers of various nationalities, as well as the fantastic clothes worn by the King and the Queen. The ballet dancers’ costumes were mentioned, and the children wondered how they were sewn so that they did not tear with all the active dancing.

There is a volunteer visiting a family once a week, teaching the children ballet. The performance gave the children interested in that a goal again. There was notable interest towards Monday’s ballet lesson!

It is usual in that family for children to think of performances on their own and then put on a performance for the workers. While the emphasis had thus far been on writing tickets, now the children understood that the preparations of the stage and the content of the performance are much more important for a good show.

So in that family, a complete ballet performance can be expected now!


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