The aim of this comparative research and presentation was to map the emergence of folk dance groups, and to assess the role of folk dance in preserving Estonianism among Estonians in exile. For Estonians, their national format became the politically correct form of self-expression. For long decades this form, comprising folk costumes, folk songs, folk dances and song festivals in a national romantic spirit, and originating from the period of national awakening, has suited Estonians. Such self-expression took over the role of specific self-definition and self-empowerment during several politically critical periods. Folk songs and dances, as well as the folk costumes, were like roots from Estonian soil for Estonian refugees after World War II, and helped them to cope in their new environments. The hobby activities of Estonians in post-war refugee centres may be viewed as essential ground for self-restoration and self-preservation.
A special focus was made on the activities of Estonian refugees and processes during the post-World War II period in Sweden and comparing that with Germany (earlier research focussed on Germany). For data collection, unstructured interviews and conversations were used, with interest on how:
- folk dance pursuit helped to unite communities of Estonians in exile and to preserve Estonianism;
- folk dance pursuit facilitated, in politically difficult times, joint actions to indirectly inform the public about the occupation of Estonia.
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