Who is Pillerkaar

Whetstone School International Night performance 11-20-09 in Gaithersburg, MD
Jyri Erik Kork, Mauno Kork, Priit Vesilind, Jeff Zelek
Kulli Pitsal, Kadri Kallas, Anu Oinas, Laila Oinas, Sirli Hill, Karen Heilman & mascot Hagan

Who are we?   

We are a non-profit folk dancing group, which performs original Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish, folk dances at various events in full national Estonian dress.   We are dancers of all faiths and cultures and seek to be of service to the Baltic and Scandinavian countries and to the local communities associated with them.   The dance group, named Pillerkaar (meaning party or soiree) was founded and has been active in the Washington metro area since 1969 under the leadership and choreography of Anu Oinas.   It became an official World Bank Club in September of 1999 and we continue to practice weekly at The World Bank Washington, DC site.


Who are Estonians?

Everyone knows about the Finns and the Swedes, but who are the Estonians?  Estonians are the oldest known inhabitants of the Northeastern shores of the Baltic Sea, having been there since the second millennium, BC.   The Gulf of Finland in the north, Latvia in the south, and Russia in the west Estonia is 18,370 square miles, equal to Denmark and the Netherlands in.   Estonians are decidedly Western and part of the Finno-Ugrian family of nations speaking the language called Estonian.  


What do we dance? 

Enjoyed by both young and old, the traditional dance is for those who have a love for music, dance, and keeping fit!   Danced in circles and lines, the basic steps are the polka, waltz, and walk and are similar to square and contra dances.  Dances traditionally depict the lifestyles of the ancient working people: Fisherman’s and Pipe Maker's Dance; animal mimicry such as the Bear and Frog Dance; and party dances: Wedding Dance, Grandfather's, and the King’s Polka.


Music of Estonian Folk Dance

Estonian dance music is traditionally played with the accompaniment of the torupill (in the bagpipe family), kannel (zither), mollpill, parmupill, lehepill, and the violin that sometimes looked very much like a kannel with a bow!   In contemporary times we have grown accustomed to dancing to the accordion.  Today, due to the scarcity of accordion, violin, and torupill players, we dance to prerecorded music on CD's!


Where have we danced in the past? 

Pillerkaar has participated in the Estonian World Festivals in Estonia, Australia, Germany, New York, Toronto, Sweden, Portland, and Los Angeles; The Smithsonian Institute; Wolf Trap; Montgomery County, Gaithersburg, Fairfax, Bowie, and Essex County Heritage Festivals; June Celebration of Light Festivals; The World Bank, and various clubs, schools, and parties throughout the US.  We also dance for weddings, parties, church group functions, senior citizens groups, and many more!  We meet at the Bank once per week to practice.