Words by Kevin Bourke
Every year, at a different location, singing, dancing and playing traditions, invariably all quite different from region to region, are judged on very specific criteria by a jury. “The competition aspect is crucial, as is the link between music and dance,” insists a local folklorist, pointing out that “even the best professionals take part in this event, along with the no-age-limit amateurs. For all of them, Landskappleiken is about prestige and keeping the tradition alive.”
With its resolutely unglamorous approach, it’s hardly Folk Idol, although I suspect the spectacular Laus dancers on Saturday afternoon could easily wow a Saturday night UK TV audience! The 1,700 or so inhabitants of this year’s picturesque venue Otta, some four hours north of Oslo, found their numbers quadrupled for the weekend as more than 1,400 amateur and professional participants, plus spectators, poured in to soak up hours of music and dance, rather than the notoriously expensive beer.
Later on, as category winners were announced and with some even more serious dancing about to start in the beer and food tent, most of them seemed to be trying to squeeze their way into the town’s kulturhus, where choreographer and Halling folk dancer Hallgrim Hansegard and his Frikar dance company, widely credited with helping Norway win the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, were premiering 8, the project he had been hard at work on ever since. “It was like the Tarantino film Kill Bill without the violence,” he observed of travelling to China without a translator to try to combine the very different dance and training disciplines of four Halling folk dancers with four Chinese kung fu monks.
If Landskappleiken aims to tell the story not only of Norwegian traditional music but also the culture as a whole, it was a perfectly-judged final event.
For details of next year’s Landskappleikein, contact: www.landskappleiken.no