The first folk dance teacher at Hugo Treffner Gymnasium was Silja Bauer (in the years 1985-1994), who also taught the Estonian language and literature. Alongside with Silja Bauer, the school social activities organiser Lii Ainsalu started teaching a girls’ dance group in 1992 followed by a mixed folk dance group (in the years 1995-1997).

In autumn 1997 the next school social activities organiser Uve Saar, who had been dancing in Silja Bauer’s folk dance group for nine years, started his career as a dance teacher. There were only three boys (Mart Linsi, Mati Raidma and Ruben Roosi) and five girls (Anniki Ellen, Urve Kari, Helen Kivisild, Mare Raidma and Pille Raudla) in Uve Saar’s dance group in the first school year. The dance group was called Muskad (Kisses). The name did not reflect the dancers’ everyday life and so the new naming contest was arranged. In 2002 the dance group was given the name “Tantsutallad“.

Next school year, 1998/1999, the number of members increased by 12 couples i.e. 24 dancers. The year 2006 boasted with so many dancers that it was necessary to make two groups – Tantsutallad I and Tantsutallad II. Now there are 120 members in the seven groups of our folk dance ensemble. During his 23 years of activity as a dance teacher and an artistic director Uve Saar has inspired 641 students of HTG and tens of dancers from other schools to take up folk dancing.

In spring 2008 the artistic director of the ensemble decided to appoint Hardi Rikand as president of the ensemble. Hardi Rikand danced in Tantsutallad from autumn 2003 to summer 2016. The president was given a glass artwork in the shape of a mountain peak, on one side straight and smooth like a dancer’s back, but on the other side bumpy and brittle like a floor where a dancer sometimes has to dance. The mountain peak symbolises the aims and the goal to get further and higher. The work of art has the ensemble logo on it. The main task of the president and the vice president (Raiki Kalda) is to replace the artistic director in his absence.

Currently, the non-profit organisation of the Folk Dance Ensemble Tantsutallad of Hugo Treffner Gymnasium is managed by a 5-member management team which chairman is Hardi Rikand.


History and Events

Going to dance festivals with so many people, it is not enough to have a leader and presidents, but somebody has to keep an eye on the dancers’ personal belongings and to ensure that everyone is in the right place at the right time. For that we are grateful to our girls’ PE teacher Anneli Saarva, who has belonged to our big family for years and who does not even mind reading a bedtime story for our tired dancers.

The everyday routine for the dancers in Tantsutallad includes two dance trainings a week and three dance camps during a school year. In addition to the above-mentioned activities we celebrate Christmas, Shrove Tuesday and Midsummer.

Our ensemble has participated in all Estonian and Youth Dance Festivals in Tallinn, we have contributed to Tartu Song Festivals as dancers or organisers. We have taken part in three men’s dance festivals in Rakvere and in a women’s dance festival in Jõgeva.

In 2011 we participated in Relay Dancing. Additionally, we have participated in Finnish-Estonian Joint Dance Festivals in Helsinki (2000), in Tartu (2005), and in Tampere (2012) as well as in several folk dance festivals in Latvia, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, France, Spain, Italy and Armenia. We have helped to organise several folk dance events, e.g. VI Niina and Alfred Raadik Youth Folk Dance Festival and winter dance festivals in Tartu County. In 2011 the members of our ensemble helped to organise bigger events, like the European Folk Art Festival Europeade and the Baltic Students’ Song and Dance Festival Gaudeamus. We consider the highest category ratings to our main and alumni groups and the first category rating to our youth group in 2009 our greatest achievements. Our ensemble was awarded with a special prize at Maie Orav Dance Competition in Viimsi in 2008. Also, we won the first prize in Kaera-Jaan Dance Competition in Võnnu.

In March 2012 we gave a gala performance to the audience of 500 people in Vanemuine Concert Hall celebrating our 15th anniversary. Our previous dancers and guest performers participated as well. We performed the best dances of our repertoire within these 15 years. With this performance we thanked Estonian folk dance creators, teachers and supporters. Organising the performance all by ourselves enabled our students to get experience in arranging public events.

The greatest achievements of 2013 can be considered the nomination of Tantsutallad as the third representative folk dance ensemble in Tartu following Tarbatu, the folk Dance Ensemble of the University of Life Sciences and the Folk Art Ensemble of the University of Tartu as well as performing at the Dance Festival of Tartu County “PÜHA“ (Holiday“) (09.06.2013). The artistic director of Tantsutallad Uve Saar was the head director of the Dance Festival of Tartu County organised by the Tartu County Folk Dance Leaders Association. In June we participated in an international folk dance festival in Callella, Spain.

The year 2014 was really intense for Tantsutallad as it was full of dance events. In March we went to Edinburgh, Scotland, where we represented Estonia at the Global Estonian Cultural Days being the main guests of the festival.

In June at Tartu Song Festival we danced and volunteered to help in organising. In midsummer all our five groups took part in the Estonian Dance Festival “Puudutus“(“Touch“).

On 8 March 2015 the 8th Winter Dance Festival was held in A.Le Coq Sports Hall. It was dedicated to women and the head director was again Uve Saar. In May the ensemble performed at the Dance Festival of South-eastern Estonia “Minu inimesed“(“My People“). In June all the young men of our ensemble participated in the 3rd Estonian Men’s Dance Festival in Rakvere. In July our representative dance group achieved the highly-appreciated fourth place at the International Folk Dance Festival held in Bursa, Turkey. There were dance groups from 18 different countries represented.

On 29 May 2016 the Dance Festival of Tartu County “Hingepuu“(“Tree of Soul“) was held in Raadi manor park in Tartu. All our 120 dancers participated and Uve Saar was an assistant director. In addition, 4 C-groups and 2 girls’ groups participated in II Estonian Women’s Dance Festival ”MeheLugu” (”Man’s Story“) that was held in Jõgeva on 12 June. On 29 July during Ruhnu- Kihnu Games our ensemble organised our own dance festival on Ruhnu Island.

On 1st April 2017 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of our ensemble and Uve Saar’s 40th birthday with the concert-performance ”Kelle nägu?” (”Whose face?”)in Vanemuine Concert House. A lot of Estonian folk dance VIPs, our friends in Estonia and abroad came to the concert-performance. The singers and dancers of our fellowship school Riga 2nd State Gymnasium participated with 80 people. Altogether, there were almost 900 people in the hall. The performance lasted for 2 h 45 min without an interval. The highlight was to get to know that all of our 7 dance groups having received high scores got to participate in the Xll Youth Dance Festival “Mina jään”(“I will stay”) in Tallinn.

The season of 2017/2018 can be remembered as one of the most successful ones, because in November 2017 we achieved the 2nd place in A category at Ullo Toom dance competition n Pärnu. Additionally, we received Ilma Adamsons special award and the audience award. In December the Estonian Folk Dance and Folk Music Association rewarded us with the title “The Best Group of the Year”, for which we got a wooden gong as a prize.

We started the year 2018 with a festive concert-assembly in Vanemuine Concert House (02.02.2018) when Hugo Treffner Gymnasium celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. We had the honour to perform 5 dances there. On 18th March the next Dance Festival of Tartu County “VABA SADA“(“100 Years of Freedom“) was held in A. Le Coq sports hall where all our 7 groups participated. Uve Saar was the director of the performance while being responsible for all the logistics during the whole festival. At the end of May our 5 groups participated in III Dance Festival of South-Eastern Estonia in Põlva. Some other major events of the first part of 2018 were the Spring Concert of HTG in the assembly hall of the University of Tartu, Tartu Gymnastics Party in Tamme stadium, celebrating the Day of the Estonian Flag in Otepää, a performance dedicated to Estonian dance teachers in Voore Resort in Jõgeva County, performing at Setu Kostipäev (Open-doors-day) in Setumaa, and of course our pride – International Folk Dance Festival in Armenia where we were awarded with grand prix.

The season of 2018/2019 was diverse for Tantsutallad. In December 2018 Hugo Treffner Gymnasium celebrated its 135th anniversary. All 112 members of Tantsutallad performed at the ball dedicated to the celebrations.

We spent the first half of 2019 learning the repertoire of the Dance Festival ”Minu arm“ (“My Love“). 6 groups out of 7 were selected to participate. Our representative group TT1 had to stay at home. On the other hand, one of our groups – TT5 was recognized as the best C-group.
Although the jury of the dance festival decided not to choose our representative group to participate in the dance festival, the city of Tartu chose the same group to be the best in 2019.
On 17th May in Vanemuine Concert Hall we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Tantsutallad participating in Dance Festival for the first time in 1999. At the end of May we were the only folk dancers asked to participate in Tartu Gymnastics Festival in Tamme Stadium. We celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first song festival with Jaanus Randmaa’s dance performance “Loodud jääma“ (“Meant to Stay“) in Kassitoome. As the representative dance ensemble of Tartu we helped to organize Tartu Song Festival at the procession of which we had the honour to be the first. The season finished with two important events – XX Esonian Dance Festival in Tallinn and our summer camp in Vidrike, which we finished with our dance festival “Minevikust tulevikku“(“From Past to Present“).

On 30th November, 2019 we took part in Ilma Adamson Dance Competition, where we came 7th in the A-groups. It was a real failure, but as it is said “What hurts, but does not kill, makes us stronger“. On the same day our school leavers had to take CAE exam in English which meant the half of the dancers went to the stage straight after the exam without any main rehearsals. As a result our emotional collapse was seen far. Thanks to this incident we got an invaluable experience.

On 25th January 2020 we were the main performers at the opening ceremony of the Chinese Year of the Rat in Tartu Town Hall Square, with all our 120 members participating. On 1st February we helped to organise the events in Eesti Rahva Muuseum (the Estonian National Museum) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Tartu Peace Treaty. The planned trip to Azerbaijan in July had to be cancelled, but our traditional summer camp in Vidrike took place and the performance at the end of our camp gathered a lot of audience. The summer romance was called “Armastus ja Kuramaaž käsikäes“(“Love and Flirting“).

Our holiday trip to Corfu Island was relaxing to our soul and body and a good way to end our season.

Titles and traditions in our group

In recent years, we have adopted a lot of new traditions in our group. For example, at our first dance camp of the school year, the older dancers choose the best young dancer “Tantsutald“ (a boy) and “Tantsutallake“ (a girl). The nominated dancers are awarded with artworks depicting golden dancing couples.

In the previous years the following people have been awarded with the title of “Tantsutald“and“Tantsutallake“:

Evert Rööpson (10.b) ja Katrin Jõgi (10.c) – 2007

Kristjan Julius Laak (10.b) ja Kerttu Lääne (10.b) – 2008

Peeter Tammur (10.a) ja Marilyn Kiho (10.c) – 2009

Tõnis Peeter Kull (10.b) ja Helina Muld (10.d) – 2010

Marger Krumm (10.b) ja Liisa Sell (10.d) – 2011

Ludvig Leis (10.a) ja Merily Taras (10.b) – 2012

Oliver Issak (10.b) ja Kerli Markus (10.e) – 2013

Lõmaš Kama (10.e) ja Riinu Esko (10.d) – 2014

Indrek Lombiots (10.a) ja Meeri Jürgenson (10.c) – 2015

Pärtel Rööpson (10.a) ja Marii Hermet (10.d) – 2016

Talis Petersell (10.b) ja Anna Zobel (10.c) – 2017

Paul-Bryan Tanilsoo (10.a) ja Stella Starkopf (10.d) – 2018

Robin Aleks Kavald (10.c) ja Hanna-Lysette Täkker (10.b) – 2019

Randar Vahtrik (10.d) ja Triine Ottender (10.d) – 2020


For the 15th anniversary of ”Tantsutallad” the artistic director started a new tradition of decorations, which are divided into 3 categories: I, II and III class.

The decorations are given at least once in five years solely by the artistic director. The decorations are given to the people who have contributed to the activities of the ensemble with their outstanding and long-term dedication.

The decorations were given on 17th March 2012 and on 1st April 2017.

I class decorations

II class decorations

III class decorations

At the last camp of a school year ”Tantsutald of the Year” is voted secretly. The following criteria should be considered:

  • exemplary behaviour (discipline in dance classes, unexcused absences, being late, etc)
  • contribution to the activities of the group (different events, trips,, solving organizational problems, looking for sponsors, helping the ensemble)
  • physical fitness and development during the school year.

”Tantsutald of the Year” is given a handmade decorative wall plate with the ensemble logo on it.

The title has been given to:

Liis-Marii Saavaste – 2008

Raiki Kalda (sama palju hääli kogus ka Henri Raadi) – 2009
 Henri Raadi got as many votes as Raiki Kalda)

Meelika Kaarna – 2010

Annika Tartes – 2011

Helina Muld – 2012

Hardi Rikand – 2013

Trine Uusen – 2014

Sandra Ivanov – 2015

Mart Erik Kermes – 2016

Kaupo Sirel – 2017

Säde Mai Krusberg – 2018

Talis Petersell – 2019

Merily Keskküla – 2020