Dance Forms

The following video links were selected to give a sampling of traditional folk dance from various districts in Norway which use hardingfele as their accompaniment. This form of indigenous Norwegian dance is known as bygdedans or regional dance. It is not known how old these dance forms are, but certainly date to the nineteenth century at least. There are many in Norway and elsewhere studying the older and sometimes lost forms of these dances.

You can see some archival footage (silent) showing different dance styles from the national competition in Voss in 1947 (View video link).


The rolling quality of the telespringar and telegangar are reminiscent of the mountains that surround this area of Norway. The three-beat-per-measure springar glides along in an almost trancelike state while the man and woman take turns dancing as a connected pair and then, occasionally splitting momentarily in an exuberant spinning solo section called laus. Two variants can be viewed, the West Telemark springar (View video link) and the more generic telespringar (View video link). The gangar is in an even meter which lends itself to a bit more energy and showiness (View video link).


The hallingspringar has several different elements: fast turns, elegant slow turns and couple turns, opportunities for guys to "show off" (or stylishly abstain), and polka steps. The 3-beat springar rhythm is more even in Hallingdal than in other hardingfele traditions, with a lilting, almost playful feel. The music has a bubbling energy just under the surface, waiting for the dancer to take it to its full potential (View video link).


The valdresspringar seems to cruise around the floor with an unceasing energy and forward drive. With the pair in constant motion, the woman being swept clockwise and counterclockwise and then abruptly changed in mid-turn, the dance seems unbridled. The syncopated beat of the music creates a dazzling couple turn which features feet locked in perfect step to a complex pattern. And then it starts all over again (View video link). This region also has a dance called bonde which is in a 2/4 or 6/8 meter like the gangars of various other districts. However this dance died out from everyday use, but recently has started making a comeback thanks to passionate researchers studying old films and interviewing older residents and dancers of the region. Here is a link to an example of bonde (View video link).


The setesdalgangar features the "heartbeat" foot tramp of the fiddler to the syncopated rhythms and intricate melodies of the Setesdal tunes. The driving intensity and creative improvisations of the music offer an intriguing challenge for dancers to fit their steps to the beat while moving either in a ring as a social mixer (View video link) or as a single couple with opportunities for men's acrobatics (View video link).


The numedalspringar and numedalgangar have a special flavor all their own, opening with a seemingly stately walking part that can be interrupted with flashes of acrobatics on the part of the man, continuing with a laus or free dance for the man and woman, and ending with an exhilarating couple turn (View video link).


The springars from Vestlandet, or the Western coast of Norway, are many in number and include vossaspringar and jølstraspringar, to name a few. The dance is characterized by a lively, bobbing step which exudes playfulness and joy. The man and woman seem to craft a beautiful dance of chase and spins. The music, though in a triple meter, proceeds along in even beats in an almost continuous fashion eluding any sense of meter (View video link). Two other dances from this region, the rudl or rull and parhalling, feature even meter flows. The rudl is particularly mesmerizing as the couple seems to float above the floor in an endless twirl (View video link). The parhalling offers both girl and boy a playful chance to do acrobatics together (View video link).

Laus or Halling

The exciting halling, or laus dance, is traditionally a solo dance in which a group of young men compete with one another by performing athletic and acrobatic maneuvers such as kips and Cossack kicks. It culminates with a specialized backflip or hallingkast up into the air to kick a hat suspended from a long pole. The tunes are very exciting and there can be much interplay between fiddler and dancer (View video link).