Personal impressions: Junior Eurovision Song Contest


It takes a lot of time to think all over the events that poured on me during the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, held in Rotterdam at the beginning of December. In a cliché – a magnificent show that takes your breath away. Clichés aside, when you’re part of this dreamy getaway, the excitement is all the more serious.

Upon arrival, I enter a hotel full of mad kids – a wave of colours and joy floating from corner to corner, no rest. The week starts with make-up, shooting of postcards, recording of a joint song “One World”, and interviews for the co-producer UNICEF. The kids are excited, sing running up and down the corridors of the hotel, pose for the cameras patiently, and enjoy every moment of their stay.

All 17 delegations have worked hard get to Rotterdam. Everybody is very friendly despite the tension. Every child has been trained to smile, sing, give interviews and behave. Kids who are more adults than I am. And still you can see their infantile psychology in their lovely childish smiles, in their failure to hide envy or suppress irritation with people trying to cajole them.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2007 I can’t wait to see the hall. Ahoy Arena doesn’t strike me as an amazingly beautiful building from the outside, but it has a surprise for me inside. The kids love it from first sight, and they start walking around it as if they were born on the stage and there is nothing intimidating in it. During the rehearsals, the cameras work hard to capture all their movements and happiness and it’s so much fun to see how the juniors flirt with them. Everybody is pleased with the results. Wherever problems there are, you have to solve them immediately and move on as the concert night is knocking on the door.

Tens of rehearsals, hours of dancing and singing… the ice is already broken, also after a day at the ice rink that the organizers have prepared for the young artists. It’s amazing how all children sing the songs of their ‘competitors’. I meet the kids from Romania, who ‘breath in, breath out’ the Dutch song, Lithuanian juniors who mumble the romantic rhymes of the Portuguese song, the charming representative of Cyprus, who sings refrains of the joint song “One World”, the girls from Bulgaria, singing the Swedish song “Nu eller aldrig”. It’s the ultimate non-competition.

But it is a contest after all. During the Dress Rehearsal on Friday, all kids are mega excited, you can see their hearts beating wild, but still there is nothing like tense silence hanging in the air. Some of them channel the tension playing at PlayStation, others lie round the floor on colourful cushions, others hug the presents they’ve received from other participants, still others exchange emails, clutching at their precious notebooks containing tens of contacts, some ever cry with thrill.

The Dress Rehearsal itself goes smoothly. The kids are already tired after a week of rehearsals, and they’re quick to go to bed. No disco tonight.

But the Contest itself is much more entertaining for the audience, and much more stressful for the participants and their delegations. No technical problems cast a gloom on the event – all 17 songs are performed with zest and energy. All kids are dressed in their Sunday bests, they smile and take pictures and again I have to note how calm and cheerful they are. No trace of competition. The Green Room is a sea of flags and smiling faces. It’s next to the stage and it’s made of the benches the children painted earlier during the week. They give a huge applause for their favourite songs – and it seems like not a single song is out of the “Favourite List”. It’s fascinating how the kids know the lyrics of all the songs, all of them in a foreign language, and they sing along with infinite artistic commotion no matter if the lyrics are correct or not. The mood is hyper cheerful. And everyone is happy when Alexey Zhigalkovich from Belarus with the song S Druzyami (With Friends) wins the 2007 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. No one thinks there is anything unfair or corrupt in the competition. They take it as grown-ups, but in a better way.

You can leave everything behind after you’ve seen 17 teams joining together in such a show. Noble is not a good word to describe their attitude. It’s just so very natural, lacking in posture. I bet the kids miss a lot from their childhood – we can argue on this issue day in day out. But we can’t disregard the facts that they enjoy it, and that the JESC is a grand chance for their future; nor can we ignore the fun, the incessant medley of various languages, the bubble of friendship and sympathy, and the precious memories dressed in glamour and gloss the event in Rotterdam must have left in everyone.

Meet you next year in Lemasos!


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