BUL – Kristiansand – is a place in the city center where everybody (even without any dance experience) is welcome to come to learn traditional Norwegian folk dances and music. Since 1911 it has been a place for social dance events and live music performances. Now, even though the weekly dance classes are mostly focused on the Norwegian folk tradition, international dance masterclasses happen there time after time. There is also an opportunity to introduce dances from the other countries – if any international participant would like to!
The oldest dances in the BUL classes and events are dated back to 15th and 16th centuries, such as “Runddanse” (“circle dances”) and “Turdanse” (“square dances”). Also common are the famous valse and polka (from the late 18th century) and even “Songdans” (singing while dancing). “Songdans” – is a unique tradition that was brought back to Norway from the Faroe Islands already in the beginning of the 20th century.
BUL – Kristiansand is a part of the Norwegian national organizations: NU (Noregs Ungdomslag) and FolkOrg and is focused on the preservation of the folk traditions.
“People who dance live longer!”
Kjersti Mosvold (musician, singer, dancer): “This is a very inclusive place, and all internationals are welcome to join! Also, we have all the age groups starting from 18 and up!”. Some people dance all their lives and never plan to stop and as the experienced dancer Siv Anne Tollevik says: “People who dance live longer!“ Siv started folk dancing at the 5th grade and never stopped since then: “I find it fascinating that you can join the dance community anywhere you go in Norway. I recall when I just moved to Volda back in the day – I was instantly included into their dance community, and the same happened when I moved here to Kristiansand!”
Apart from some other dance places, for the folk dancing in BUL you don’t need to have a partner. There is no importance in any sex/gender distinction. The only possible dance roles are “leader” and ‘follower,” which are also often switched between participants throughout the dance session. “The teaching method is based on more intuitive learning rather than strict technicality, so dancers can feel freer while engaging into the process and thus movements come more natural” -says Liv Arvidsson (the program leader of 65 years of experience!). Special guest dance instructors are invited often, and there is live dance music every week. Many events, local festivals and special weekend courses are organized throughout the year that bring together other dance groups from the whole Agder region.
Kjersti Mosvold: “There is also a possibility to learn traditional music so anyone with their instrument is welcome to join. We like to keep this oral tradition, so we don’t use the note sheets.”
You can learn more about the Norwegian traditional music in the very recent great documentary (released in November 2023) on NRK – “Trollstemt” (no subscription needed!).
“A beginner friendly place where you can come whenever you please”
Dance instructor Synne Elisabeth Stray: “Folk dance community is very open and allows different generations to meet and to learn from each other. You don’t have to look ‘cool’ and know dance tricks, since the main function of the folk dance is social and not performative.”
However, the real performances do happen sometimes; several BUL dancers took part in the Kilden cultural event “Folkelig kraft fra Agder” in August 2023. For Karen Sophie Lund (a dancer and the social media manager) it was her first dance performance on the real stage. She is happy that BUL – Kristiansand gave her such an opportunity. “BUL is a beginner friendly place where you can come whenever you please and – if you will – greatly improve your dance skills!” – she says.
The mental health is a big concern nowadays. Since the pandemic of 2020 the situation worsened, and more people started to feel more isolated. And dancing (and specifically social folk dancing) can actually improve people’s mental wellbeing. “These days people became more disconnected from each other, and the use of technology greatly contributes to this. It is sad to see that young generation prefers to stay home and play video games rather than to be more engaged in the community and to connect to others in the real life. I believe that the folk dance is a great tool to bring people together and I would really like to see more young people to join!” – says the program leader Liv Arvidsson
The new Monday classes (as an addition to the Wednesday’s social dancing) has been going on since the Fall of 2022 and are focused mostly on the new dancers. It is free for anybody under 26 years old and is very affordable for everybody else (300 NOK for the whole semester).
Location: just 50 meters from BARE!
Norwegians and Internationals are all welcome to join! Learning traditional dances is fun and helps to keep the tradition alive! This is the quote Liv Arvidsson likes to say:
“Ein tradision gjer seg nemleg ikkje sjølv. Han treng vatn, ved og kjærleik”.
(“A tradition does not uphold itself. It requires water, wood and love”)