Peer Gynt Norwegian Dancers/Synnøve-Nordkap Junior Lodge

by Susan Stow

The group originated from a Stillwater 4-H Club Share the Fun act with the theme “It’s a small world after all.” The group won a trip to the State Fair in 1979 and has been going strong ever since — almost 40 years later!

We chose the name “Peer Gynt” from Henrik Ibsen’s play because this character has many adventures and since the original 4-H group was called the Adventurers.

In 1980, St. Paul Sons of Norway had seen a dance performance at the Syttende Mai Society and asked if we would join forces. The group was chartered as a Sons of Norway junior lodge in 1981.

With the support of Synnøve-Nordkap, we ordered the material for the Hverdagsbunader from Norway. Aagot Struss and I sewed outfits all summer that year. Several senior lodge members helped weave the Sockebunner for the boys.

Next we performed in front of the Hjemkomst ship after its return from Norway. It was parked on 2nd St. in Stillwater in front of the local newspaper. A gentleman from Alaska who was in the audience asked if our group could represent Norwegian immigrants at a festival in Anchorage the following summer. I said, “Sure!”. Dozens of fundraisers later we were flying to Alaska.

We have had marvelous opportunities and experiences with the support of Synnøve-Nordkap, dancing at the Norwegian Pavillion at Epcot Center two summers, at Scandinavian festivals in Bergen County New Jersey, Washington Island, Wisconsin  and the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, MN. It was fun to be in the Syttende Mai parade in Stoughton and actually dance with some members of that fabulous group.

Locally, our performances have been at Lyngblomsten Norwegian Home, Norway  Day at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, in front of the Leif Ericson statue across from the Capitol  building, at Syttende Mai at Mindekirken, the Winter Carnival parade, Festival of Nations, at our June picnic around the May pole and, of course, for the lodge.

Currently, the kids are working on wood carving or knitting cultural skills. Two of our favorite meeting themes are baking day in December and the fish toss and sledding party in January. We meet September through May one Saturday afternoon per month.

Several of the dancers have received generous scholarships from our lodge to attend Skogfjorden, a Norwegian language immersion summer camp that’s part of the Concordia Language Villages.