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Dance Teachers and Performers

Olav Jørgen Hegge and Mary S. Hegge
Mary and Olav Hegge

Olav Jørgen Hegge is regarded by many as the leading tradition bearer of the Hardanger fiddle and the dance style from the Valdres valley in Norway. He has played and danced for more than 35 years. Olav has been a music and dance judge at the local and regional competitions, and has judged the national competition in Hardanger fiddling. He has taught Hardanger fiddle at the University of Oslo, and is currently teaching at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss in Western Norway. In 1994 he was featured in a Norwegian television program, and an hour-long program was devoted to him on Norwegian radio in 1995. He was a recipient of the 1996 Saga Prize awarded by Saga Petroleum, naming him as a master teacher for a young musician. Olav will be teaching dance from the Valdres region of Norway together with Mary S. Hegge, and will also be performing as both a dancer and Hardanger fiddler at AmeriKappleik.

Mary S. Hegge has studied Scandinavian dance intensively since the mid 1980s with master dancers in Norway and Sweden, concentrating on the springar dances from Valdres and Telemark. Together with Olav Jørgen Hegge, she has presented programs of Valdres music and dance and has taught numerous courses and weekend workshops in the U.S., Sweden and Norway. She has also served as a dance judge at a competition in Norway. In 2001 Mary received a Minnesota Folk Artists Apprenticeship grant to study langeleik (a Norwegian folk instrument) in Norway. Mary will be teaching dance from the Valdres region of Norway together with Olav Jørgen Hegge, and will also be performing in several concerts at AmeriKappleik.

Karin Brennesvik

Karin Brennesvik has been dancing since she was five. She has both performed and taught folk dancing in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, and the United States. She has won the Norwegian National Competition in dance twice as well as innumerable smaller competitions. She is the founder and director of the traditional dance group Småjondølane, which has won prizes in international competitions. She has choreographed programs for the 150th birthday celebration of Edward Grieg, the Barbican Center in London, the Royal Foreign Department of Norway, and the Norwegian Embassy in the US, and has performed for the King and Queen of Norway among others. Karin will be teaching a workshop in traditional dancing from the Telemark region of Norway, and will be performing in several concerts.

Tom Løvli

Tom Løvli is a champion dancer of the Norwegian halling, known as one of the most athletic dances in the world and requiring exceptional strength, skill, and grace. He has twice won the Norwegian national championship in halling dance. He has taught numerous dance workshops with Karin Brennesvik in Norway and the USA, and has performed extensively in Norway, the USA, and Europe, including a performance for the King and Queen of Norway. Tom will be teaching workshops in traditional dance from the Telemark region of Norway, and will be performing in several concerts.

Knut and Anna Torhild Blikberg

Knut Blikberg is one of Voss's most accomplished folk dancers. He learned dancing as he grew up and has been dancing and performing for nearly thirty years. He has consistently ranked at the top in many regional and national folk dance competitions in Norway. He has performed in over six European countries and in the USA at the Nordic Fest in Decorah, Iowa. He has performed on television several times, including a broadcast from the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer and the Bergen Festival. He teaches dance at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss and is also a noted collector of dance traditions from Western Norway. His wife, Anna Torhild Blikberg, has partnered him for dance teaching for many years. Knut and Anna will be teaching traditional Norwegian dance from Voss in addition to performing.

Roo Lester

Roo Lester, of the Chicago area, is a director of Scandia Camp Mendocino, teaches the popular 'Scandinavian Dance Basics' class at Nordic Fiddles and Feet on and is a consultant for Scandinavian events at Folklore Village. She teaches children, elderhostel participants, and a weekly Scandinavian turning dance class in Chicago. Roo is currently on the board of directors for the National Folk Organization.

Mikkel Thompson

Mikkel Thompson, of Stockholm and Minnesota, has been dancing all his life. He learned gammaldans (waltz, reinlender) through family tradition growing up in northern Minnesota. He started dancing other types of folk dances in the early 1980's, including springar and gangar in 1985. Mikkel was the Artistic Director of the Nordahl Grieg Leikarring and Barneleikarring in San Jose, California from 1985 to 2002. Mikkel has traveled to Norway six times to study dance and has learned from Karin Brennesvik and Olav Sem, among many others.