By Viktar Korbut
On June 8th, 2009, the European Broadcasting Union officially informed us that Junior Eurovision-2010 would take place in the Belarusian capital, on November 20th, 2010. The recently constructed sports and concert site — Minsk-Arena — would host the contest, organised under the slogan ‘Feel the Magic’.
Truly, Belarus deserves the right to host this children’s competition. Since the event began, in 2003, Belarusian children have taken part joyfully and with success. For three years in a row, Belarusians won gold and silver. In 2005, Ksenia Sitnik won the contest in Belgium, followed by Andrey Kunets taking silver in Bucharest the next year. In 2007, Alexey Zhigalkovich claimed another gold for Belarus.
Minsk-Arena is already a major venue, so is perfect for hosting the grand event, gathering young stars from 14 countries. Participants are to perform one after another on the 2m high stage, with a special bridge built for the singers’ final songs. This year’s Eurovision is to be 15 minutes shorter than previously, lasting two hours. It is sure to be dynamic, full of national colour and sincerity.
The Belarusian TV and Radio Company is the contest’s organiser. It has informed that illuminated wands will be given to audience members to wave during the show, filling the arena with thousands of miraculous lights. “We’re making the show dynamic and full of national flavour. People will watch with bated breath. We’ve eradicated the unnecessary elements and long pauses; if the show loses momentum, viewers change channels,” explains the Executive Producer of Junior Eurovision-2010, Alexander Martynenko.
For the first time in the show’s history, the winners of all seven previous events are to perform, jointly singing a medley of their winning songs. Eurovision will begin with Alexey Zhigalkovich and Ksenia Sitnik singing Hello, Eurovision! together, in the form of a dialogue. It could be the next big hit. “Alexey begins, asking Ksenia a question. She, in turn, replies — via the song. Then, they sing the refrain together. Both sing as equals, since they’re independent artists,” explains Ksenia’s mother and Artistic Leader Svetlana Statsenko. The song has been written by Belarusian Maxim Aleinikov and Andrey Kostyugov.
The junior contest sees Belarus represented by Daniil Kozlov, who often comes to Minsk from his native Zhabinka, to see his vocal teacher. Daniil has been giving concerts and having fun in the capital. “Of course, I’m tired but this matters little. I’ll do my best to perform worthily at the contest,” he says. He’s now rehearsing his Music Light song, to be performed for the thousands gathering at Minsk-Arena and the millions of TV viewers. Daniil, 13, aims to show his mettle and is already preparing his winner’s speech — just in case. Of course, he knows that all the contestants are true stars and hopes they’ll become good friends in Minsk. Daniil began singing at the age of three and now studies under Nelli Dukova, who teaches him stage vocals. He also has violin lessons at Zhabinka Arts School and says he loves to relax at his family’s dacha. His favourite book is the Bible while his favourite singer is Piotr Yelfimov, who represented Belarus at Eurovision-2009 in Moscow. He loves Belarusian folklore and classical music, while dreaming of singing opera.
An interesting programme has been prepared for the foreign participants, including a circus show and a meeting with Belarusian Father Frost. Each European guest will be given a coupon book, allowing them to choose some small national souvenirs from Minsk’s shops free of charge. Around the capital, their photos and performances will be viewable on huge plasma screens, making them feel like true stars.
Besides the major winner’s prize, miniature prizes are being prepared for every entrant. Among them are warm, Belarus-made, white felt boots, decorated with original patterns, by designer Lora Pavlova. “I’ve developed a special design, with a hand-cross-stitched, embroidered logo. Additionally, I’ve drawn several words on the footwear — ‘Junior Eurovision-2010’ and ‘Minsk-2010’,” Lora tells us. It’s not easy making felt boots since it takes a long time to process the wet wool, turning it to compacted felt. The ‘valenki’ (from the Russian ‘valyat’ — or ‘felt’) have been made in Belarus for two centuries and are still popular today, being made to every taste. Perfect for spring and autumn, they come decorated with colourful drawings and patterns. Some 30-40 years ago, felt boots were the main footwear of Belarusians; now, they’re worn more rarely.
However, on cold winter days, Minskers sometimes put them on. It’s no surprise, as felt boots are made from wool. As doctors say, this keeps colds at bay.