No Pain, No Gain

This proverb aptly characterizes Natalya Baranova, Artistic Director of the children´s dance ensemble Neposedy (Fidgets). She is a little fragile woman with tremendous will-power.Neposedy has existed for as long as Natalya has lived in Estonia, that is, for nineteen years. In 1990, the family came to Tallinn, her husband´s home city, where their son went to school. The school was famous for the high level teaching of the exact sciences, but there had been never any dancing facilities. Baranova joined the staff first as a teacher of rhythmics, being a qualified teacher and choreographer to become later the leader of a dance group. The children willingly started to gain insight into the secrets of character dance. The name appeared as if by itself—that year in the first grades there were very many boys, and their forever restless, fidgeting behaviour is well known. The children´s active nature was blended with a creative streak and with Natalya Baranova´s profession, a very successful blend.

They dance Russian dances, stylised and regional, which means that Natalya Baranova teaches children specific dancing modes characteristic of particular regions of Russia only. How colourful are, for example, the famous lokotochki (elbow movements) in Vyatsk Quadrille! The Festive Russian is, by contrast, a regular Russian dance, including a round dance and solo dances.

They are taught basics of classical dance for without it one is unable to appreciate character dance. It is essential to understand how the Russian dance differs from the Ukrainian, Belorussian or Estonian dance. This is what Natalya Baranova also teaches. The achievements of the ensemble speak of complete mutual understanding within the group. Here is a brief account of the last two years. In June, Neposedy returned from the St. Petersburg contest The Baltic Pearl, in which the youngest group came first in the nomination of the children´s dance. Natalya´s children performed three dances: Matreshka, Kolyada (a stylised Belorussian dance), and In the Rain—the dance of a child´s soul—this is how Natalya describes the latter. The senior group became the laureate of the 2nd degree in the nomination Folk Dance at the contest Petersburg Snowstorm 2008 and won the first place from the spectators´ jury. This year, Neposedy became a laureate of the Estonian Republican Contest Koolitants-15 (school dance). In July, the senior group will go to Klaipeda, Lithuania, to take part in the European Song and Dance Festival as part of a 900-strong delegation from Estonia.

Neposedy participate both in contests and festivals. The ensemble gives solo concerts in Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belorussia, Poland. A contest, in Natalya´s estimation, is a closed activity where participants are confined to a narrow circle, whereas a festival may be likened to an open soul. Perhaps in order to open one´s soul and to feel the souls of others, the ensemble has launched its own festivals bearing the name Neposedy Invite Friends. The festivals are held at the Centre of Russian Culture, Tallinn. Its Director, Yuri Polyakov, always welcomes new projects, the more so if these are linked with children´s creative activities. It should be noted that this is the only international dance festival of children´s and adolescents´ creative activities in Estonia to represent different trends of choreographic art—from classical and folk dance to modern choreography and folklore. The next, 10th festival, will be held this December. It will differ from the previous ones in that within its framework a contest of creative programmes and master classes in choreography will take place. The Head of the seminar and of the contest jury is Zara Lyangolph, Assistant Professor of the Department of Choreography, the University of Culture and Arts, St. Petersburg. Guests are expected from Estonia, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belorussia, and Ukraine.

Currently, Natalya Baranova has initiated a new project—Co-Operation of Tallinn Talents, the aim of which is to develop the diversity of the capital´s cultures and to facilitate informal contacts of the Estonian and Russian creative organisations.

Natalya Baranova, the holder of the Russian Estonia reward, is a professional of the highest class who has devoted all her life to children´s amateur art. She believes that true professionalism is reaching certain heights. There are craftsmen who are in the majority and there are masters who are very few. And when craftsmanship turns into mastery—this is professionalism. And there is no other way. To achieve this transition one must work very hard.