Interview with Førde Traditional and World Music Festival Performer Frikar

Hallgrim Hansegård, artistic director and choreographer of the Frikar dance company
Photo by Magnus Skrede
Frikar: “The human being needs to play and re-explore the human nature in itself via dance and music

One of the highlights of the Førde Traditional and World Music Festival, held this year July 5-8 in Førde, Norway, is the dance troupe Frikar from Norway. Hallgrim Hansegård, artistic director and choreographer at Frikar dance company, joins us in this exclusive interview where he shares his views on the troupe’s roots, evolution, and collaborative ventures.

The troupe has been hailed as “wildly inventive and thrilling” by National Geographic and “blessedly uninhibited” by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, and has won a number of awards for dance choreography. We will have more coverage of the troupe live from the Festival in July.

On the roots of the group

We seek ways of developing arts where traditional artists may represent their district and express themselves personally in the contemporary world. We also wanted to revitalize the Norwegian dance traditions and let them communicate across borders.

Frikar Dance Company is a dance company always working with live music. We change musicians and composer from project to project. But we have some nuclear members of dancers. As a choreographer I am inspired by Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi among others.

I run my own academy, Frikar Academy. And the Frikar members often teach while touring. My great great grandmother was a good dancer, and my grandfather played accordion.”

The troupe’s new performances for the 2012 Festival

“8” is a totally new concept from Frikar, both musically and choreographically. I lived for four months in a kung fu temple in Wudang, China, last year. I studied kung fu, and choreographed four of the best kung fu monks in the Dragon temple Huilongguan. Three more Frikar dancers from Norway came over to China, and the upcoming performance is about our meetings. The monks do not speak English, we do not understand Chinese — but we made the performance without an interpreter! The music is composed by the great Norwegian composer talent, Marcus Paus.”

The lineup of instruments in their ensemble

In “8” we have violin, viola, cello, marimba, vibrafon, mbira, Chinese temple drums, Chinese temple gongs, Jewish harp, and many other instruments!

On how they blend different musical influences and genres

Composer Marcus Paus has made extensive research in blending European classical music with Chinese and Norwegian colours. Movement-wise, I have, for example, translated kung fu phrases to Norwegian dance phrases, but mostly we connect kung fu and our dance together though natural body language.”

The profile of some of the collaborative artists

I often perform with Terje Isungset on ice instruments (also at Attakkalari India Biennale in Bangalore), Ragnhild Hemsing (blending Norwegian folk music and European classical music), Marcus Paus and Bugge Wesseltoft.”

The troupe’s musical journey

I started playing Hardanger fiddle and dancing when I was seven. I studied arts, and started as choreographing — mixing dance, animation and music together. I have been very curious to learn about dance and movement arts from other places in the world, and this has influenced me a lot. The simplicity of rural movements and grooves has something unique, and the challenge is to conserve this quality in contemporary expressions.

We are touring with our new production “8” with Chinese kung fu monks and Norwegian dancers. We have played across Europe and Asia, for instance at the Open Look Festival in St. Petersburg, Attakkalari India Biennale, an arena concert in Minsk, and a tour in Italy censored by the Catholic Church!

Their message to the audience

Every project has its own message or question. In “8”, which we are showing at the Førde Festival, I would like the audience to get to know the eight different individuals in the group of Chinese kung fu monks and Norwegian dancers. The politics and journalism between Norway and China are so cold and stereotypical. I would like the audience to remember we are all individuals. The human being needs to play and re-explore the human nature in itself. That is the main scope of Frikar dance company!

Author: Madanmohan Rao

Madanmohan Rao is an author and media consultant from Bangalore, and global correspondent for world music and jazz for World Music Central and Jazzuality. He has written over 15 books on media, management and culture, and is research director for YourStory Media. Madan was formerly World Music Editor at Rave magazine and RJ at WorldSpace, and can be followed on Twitter at @MadanRao.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *