Global Estonian | Australian Estonian Folk Dancer’s Collaborate with The Australian Estonian Choir
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Australian Estonian Folk Dancer’s Collaborate with The Australian Estonian Choir

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Written by Taimi Maidla, photos by Warwick King 

Virmalised and Kooskõlas performed at the National Multicultural Festival in Canberra, Sunday 18 February 2024. “The National Multicultural Festival is an iconic 3-day event that brings together more than 170 multicultural communities to share their culture, history and heritage through food, art, song and dance.” The official description does sum it up pretty well, but what they can’t describe is the buzz felt in the lead up and being at the event. Streets were shut down to make way for vendors selling food and organisations giving information out about their cultures, with a number of stages, where I believe the real magic happened. 

Both ourselves, Virmalised (Sydney Estonian Folk Dancers), and Kooskõlas (National Choir of Australian Estonians) have been around for years but the current members have never performed on stage together. The choir got the crowd warmed up with some old faithful songs, such as ‘Koit’, ‘Ilus oled, isamaa’ and ‘Ta lendab mesipuu poole’. We then we took the stage with some upbeat dances such as ‘Kikkapuu’ and ‘Külapolka’, some crowd favourites. After the choir sang a song with some audience participation it was time for us to all squish onto the covered stage together and be united, performing three songs as one ensemble. This was particularly challenging as it was getting close to 40 degrees and we were all in our beautiful woollen folk costumes. 

Wearing our folk costumes and performing, brings such a sense of pride, especially as this was the first time all of the performers, both dancers and singers, were dressed in some form of folk costumes, with some pieces being from our new Australian Folk Costume Library. Our Sydney Handicraft group is collecting and storing over 200 pieces of folk costumes and this was the first time it has been used for an adult performance, outside of the Estonian Community and it was such a joy to see everyone in some form of folk costume. 

What was unique about this performance from a personal point of view, was looking over to the choir as we rotated around throughout the dances, and seeing them watch us proudly while we danced to their words. There are some family members in both groups, plus some "adopted" family members and former rahvatants teachers, so I'm sure for the older generations being able to work so cohesively with those of us who they've taught would have been a memorable, full-circle moment. 

There was no doubt a special buzz after we finished with ‘Tuljak’ and got a whole group photo. A number of us were even asked for photos with random members of the public in our rahvariided. I'll remember this particular performance for a very long time. The next step is deciding what our joint name should be? Virmaskõlas? Kooskõlised? Feel free to follow our social pages and send us suggestions as we continue our journeys to tantsu- ja laulupidu 2025, and continue to build our folk costume library here in Australia. @sydneyvirmalised @kooskolas_choir @sydneykäsitöö 


About Taimi Maidla:

My dad's parents came to Australia after the war and set up a chicken farm in Thirlmere, along with many other Estonian families. We still live on the same farm and we still have chickens, although on a much smaller scale. Growing up there were always Estonian events on down the road in the Estonian Hall in Thirlmere that we would attend. I participated in Estonian dancing as a child, and again as a teenager, and now whenever I can as an adult. I've lived overseas a lot but now that I'm back I'm able to give back to a community and culture I love so much. I've also been attending Sõrve Summer Camp for over 20 years and have held many positions, most recently Laagriabijuht and Kommandant.



Veebilehte haldab Integratsiooni Sihtasutus.
Sihtasutuse asutaja on Eesti Vabariik, kelle nimel teostab asutajaõigusi Kultuuriministeerium.