Awards and Recognitions

November 2019. Outstanding Achievement and Outstanding Organization.

Estonian American National Council (EANC) recognizes Anu Oinas of Pillerkaar.

Anu Oinas founded Pillerkaar in 1071. Under her leadership and instruction, the group quickly flourshed. The next year, 24 ouples from teh group attended teh Estonian World Festival in Toronto, Canada. Pillerkaar has graced stages, stadiums and festivals with their energy and talents ever since.

With Ms. Oinas at its helm, PIllerkaar grew so big that it encompased three different dance troupes: one for youth, another for adults, and a third for seasoned dancers. When Estonian folk dancing started to wane in teh United States in the early 2000s, Ms. Oinas led a new charge by launching IREKS, Ida Ranniku Eesti Kula Simman (East Coast Estonian Village Soiree). Ms. Oinas and Pillerkaar spent many hours planning and preparing. Performances included Estonian, Lithuanian, and Latvian music and dance. The event brought together over 500 people and inspired dance groups up and down the east coast.

In 2019 , Ms. Oinas was recognized by teh Estonian Foreign Ministry as a Citizen Diplomat for her contributions to teaching and preserving Estonian folk dance and to introducing Estonian culture for over 40 years.

When Ms. Oinas retired in 2015, Jeff Zelek and Kadri Kallas Zelek took over directing the group. Pillerkaar continues to bring together enthusiastic dancers from teh Washington, DC area for weekly practices and periodic performances. The group has traveled all over the world to perform at Estonian World Festivals and regularly performs in its local Washington, DC metro area. It has performed at the NATO Festival, Scan Fest, the World Bank, various embassies, and countless local festivals in teh DC area. For almost 50 years, Anu Oinas and Pillerkaar have been instrumental in bringing Estonians together to enjoy their own traditions and in providing a colorful glimpse of Estonian culture and people to the American public.

Anu Oinas, Jeff and Kadri Zelek

Presented by Karin Shuey and Ivan Kavoleff of EANC .

Photo credit: Ulla Vinkman — at The 2019 Awards Gala hosted by Estonian American National Council, Washington, DC.

February 2019. Citizens Diplomat Award.

Congratulations to our founder Anu Oinas who has been recognized by the Estonian Foreign Ministry as a Citizen Diplomat for her contributions to teaching and preserving Estonian folk dance traditions and to introducing Americans to Estonian culture for over 40 years!