Monday, May 30, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance?

Have you read Anna Befort's cover story in the June issue of Viking magazine on Hallgrim Hansegård and his groundbreaking FRIKAR dance company? If so, you know Hansegård, originally from Valdres, began playing Hardanger fiddle and dancing the halling at the age of 7. His exposure skyrocketed in 2006, when appeared on the popular TV program "Danse Feber," Norway's version of "So You Think You Can Dance?" Here's a clip of his appearance, when he wowed the judges with his traditional laus (literally "loose," or solo) dancing.

While Hansegård's group is solidly rooted in Norwegian folk dance traditions, lausdans is just the beginning of what you'll experience in a FRIKAR performance. Hansegård's influences also include breakdancing, ballet and martial arts. Check out FRIKAR's YouTube channel to see dozens of clips of FRIKAR performances, including their winning "Fairytale" performance in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Monday, May 23, 2011

World's Best Beard Proudly Sports Norway's Flag

If you live with a facial-hair enthusiast, like I do, you might already know about the World Beard and Moustache Championships held recently in Norway. My husband dropped some heavy hints about visiting Trondheim this spring for the event, which was temptingly scheduled on May 15, just two days before Norway's national day celebrations. While our family budget couldn't accommodate a spontaneous beard-inspired jump across the pond, there were plenty of photos taken to document the event. And I must admit, there were some truly impressive displays of facial hair.

The biennial contest offers competition in 17 different categories and this year attracted contestants from 15 countries. While a world beard championship might seem frivilous, Ole Skibnes, president of the host Norwegian Moustache Club, warns that there's more to this event than meets the eye. "This is not a circus," Skibnes said in a recent CNN interview." You can't just judge the size of the moustache—you have to see if the hair is well-groomed, see if it suits the person, see if it makes them look good."

This year's winner, Elmar Weissar, a hairdresser from Germany, took the coveted title of "best beard" for a third time. With a not-so-subtle nod to his Norwegian hosts, he sculpted his gravity-defying whiskers to include a moose and a Norwegian flag.

After the event, participants were invited to stay in Trondheim to participate in the city's Syttende Mai parade.

While the next world championship is still two years away, it's not too early to start growing that beard. Anyone up to the challenge of representing Sons of Norway in the 2013 competition in Germany?

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gratulerer Med Dagen!

It's Syttende Mai, and that means that Sons of Norway communities throughout North America and Norway are waving their Norwegian flags, hosting parades, church services and all manner of celebrations to commemorate Norway's constitution day.

This is a great day of unity and celebration for Norway, so please join me and all of Sons of Norway in saying Hurrah for Syttende Mai!

Hurrah for 17. Mai

Today is Norway's Constitution Day. Happy 17. mai, or as they say in Norwegian, gratulerer med dagen!

As this festive day is beginning on our side of the ocean, celebrations in Norway have been well underway for hours. The weather in Oslo early this morning was chilly and threatened rain, but the sun broke through later to shine on the celebrations.

Crown Princess Ingrid Alexandra was up early, dressed in her finest, with the rest of her family. By 8 a.m. they were on the front steps of their estate in Skagum, where they greeted parading schoolchildren. Later, she and her family joined her grandparents, the king and queen, on the balcony of the royal palace, where they waved to the thousands of participants in the country's largest parade.

To watch a recap of the celebrations in Norway and around the world, check out NRK Nett-TV. You can read more about the day's events in English by visiting Views and News from Norway. And if you haven't seen it yet, check out "The Rites of Russ" in the May issue of Viking.

No matter where you're celebrating today, the staff of Viking magazine wishes you a very happy Syttende Mai!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Geir Halvorsen

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Eurovision 2011: Semi-Final 1 Results

If you tuned in on Tuesday to’s live coverage of the Eurovision song contest you enjoyed the musical stylings of contestants from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and Norway.

Despite an infectious chorus and beat, Norway’s entry entitled “Haba Haba” by Stella Mwangi didn’t make the final cut to advance to the finals on May 14th. (To learn more about Stella, click here) In spite of the loss, Stella remains positive saying, "I'm fine. It was a great atmosphere in the arena, everyone seemed to be singing Haba Haba." Eurovision 2009 winner, Alexander Rybak, showed support for Stella during an interview with Aftenposten saying he believes that Norway’s second place in the performance order may have been challenging. He also went on to say that due to broadcast malfunctions, viewers in Spain were unable to hear any sound during Stella’s performance.

All is not lost, however, as two of our Nordic neighbors, Finland and Iceland succeeded in the first semifinal to advance to the finals on Saturday, May 14 with fellow contestants from Serbia, Lithuania, Greece, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Switzerland, Hungary and Russia. You can also follow Denmark and Sweden’s performances in the second round semifinals today on at 2:00 PM (CST).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Norwegians as Role Models for Peace

"When more women are involved in politics, there will be more peace," says Norway's former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. It's a statement that some concerned Minnesotans took to heart when they planned an event called "Empowerment of Women Through Education and Economics." The symposium, held last week at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, was hosted by Norway House, Minnesota International Center, the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights - U.S. Foundation.

With Mr. Bondevik (pictured here) as keynote speaker, the event focused on how Norway can serve as a role model to the rest of the world when it comes to gender equality and the role women play in shaping society. And how can we as Americans work within our society and political systems to make a difference? I'm hoping to learn more about this at a follow-up session the organizers are planning for October.

You can read my interview with Mr. Bondevik about his peace efforts, formerly as prime minister and now as founder of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, in the May issue of Viking.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Norway House

Tuning in for Eurovision 2011

The month of May marks many exciting events within the Norwegian community, primarily the celebration of Norway’s Constitution Day. However, this year Norwegians have yet another event to celebrate: Eurovision 2011.

In it’s 56th year, the Eurovision song contest is an international broadcasting event—coordinating simulcasts in 43 participating nations as well as Australia, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Korea, and New Zealand. From May 10th through the 14th, viewers across Europe will be tuning in to this year’s live song contest to watch and vote for their favorite contestants. Hosting the event this year is Germany, the home country of last year’s Eurovision winner, Lena Meyer-Landrut.

Norway’s contestant, Stella Mwangi, received a winning 280,217 votes in Oslo’s Melodi Grand Prix with her song “Haba Haba” to win the nomination for her adopted county in February. Mwangi’s energetic pop song takes cues from her African roots and centers heavily on the words of encouragement Mwangi received from her grandmothers, who encouraged her to be whatever she wanted to be. Commentators from Aftenposten suggest that Mwangi may have good chances of winning Eurovision since recent winners—including Alexander Rybak—have succeeded with upbeat songs.

Viewers in Canada and the U.S. can follow along by visiting at 2:00 PM (CST) on Tuesday, May 10th to watch Mwangi in the first of 2 semi-finals, where she will compete against contestants from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey. The second semi final will take place on the 12th, the final on the 14th.