Children and Youth Ensemble Leesikad was formed in 2005 in Tallinn, Estonia as a school folk dance
group. By now we have over 150 members aged 7 to 22 and with some rare exceptions they are all
active or former students of Tallinn French School (actually an ordinary Estonian school - we just
learn French as a foreign language).
Different age groups have their regular dance practices separately but the ensemble shares traditions and festivities that are celebrated all together. Each age group is able to give independent concerts but our audience as well as our dancers most enjoy mixed performances featuring several different age groups. Having children, teenagers and young adults dance together creates a genuine and cheerful atmosphere.
Programmes performed by Leesikad consist of dances, songs, games and instrumental music
collected from all over Estonia. Performances are built up more or less like village parties: musicians
play and dancers dance, sing and play games. We often also involve the audience in the dancing and
they seem to enjoy it as much as we do.
Back home Leesikad also dance contemporary choreographies inspired by the work of different popfolk bands and our musicians like to arrange traditional tunes. However, when abroad we only present Estonian traditional dances, games and tunes, unless agreed otherwise.
Leesikad have participated in several international festivals in neighboring countries and Central Europe. Our longest and most exotic travels have been to CIOFF festivals in Taiwan and Mexico.
The Estonian folk costume scenery is unbelievably rich considering the small size of the country. Leesikad wear traditional 19th century folk costumes. Our collection of different suits covers all four of the most distinguished clothing groups of Estonia: Northern, Southern and Western Estonia and the islands. Our costumes are handmade, partly by the dancers themselves, following the instructions of handicraft masters and specialists on folk costumes.
The founder and artistic leader of Leesikad is Kristiina Siig (b. 1988).
She grew up as a member of Estonia’s oldest traditional dance ensemble Leigarid, she has a BA in choreography from Tallinn University and is currently studying folkloristics at the University of Tartu. She is one of the organizers of the biggest Estonian traditional dance festival Sabatants and a member of a research group focused on the dance tradition of Estonia’s small Pakri islands. She has gained several prizes for her creative work and has staged dances for the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration, a unique tradition listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.