Over the past few months, our Barnesklubb (Scandinavian Youth Club) has been learning Norsk or Norwegian folk dance. It has been a very fun endeavor and admittedly, a little challenging as well for I have not had prior folk dance experience. This undertaking has, therefore, been a little scary for me. Motivated to earn the cultural skills pin from our Sons of Norway lodge, however, and coincidentally satisfying course requirements to renew my teaching certification … we got underway.
With the arrival of musical instruments in the 18th century, the song dance began to decline. Influences from Europe brought new ideas in music and dancing. Couples danced the polka and waltz. The accordion, flute, violin, and zither ingrained themselves in the culture along with the movements meant to be companion to them.
All of these traditions are nurtured in present day Norway. Efforts by the Norwegian Traditional Music and Dance Association, founded in 1987, along with Sons of Norway lodges the world over, ensure that the traditions of old will continue into the future intact and adored. In March, I introduced my Barnesklubb (Scandinavian Youth Club) to folk dancing.
I had watched a few videos on YouTube, took copious notes, read a few books (Folk-dances and Singing Games and many more are available for free on Google Play), and worked through the basic steps on my own. When Barnesklubb met at the library each month, I brought along the music and walked the kids through two dances, Klappdans and Seksmannsril.
Klappdans, or the Swedish Couple Dance, is danced in a double circle, with the partners side by side with the girl on the boy’s right, inside hands joined and the free hands on hips. It is sometimes referred to as the Parisian Polka and Children’s Clapping Dance.
Seksmannsril translates to 6-man Reel and is a bright, lively 3-couple set dance. As with several other folk dances of similar nature in Norway, it is generally considered to have been an import from Scotland centuries ago, but over the years has acquired a typically Norwegian character. The tune most frequently used for the dance is well known to both British and Americans: “Soldier’s Joy.”
Our own experience has been wonderful and we look forward to putting our dancing shoes on again in the fall.