• October 26, 2014

Wisconsin students perform at local schools

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Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2011 12:00 pm

By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

Rows of dancers in Norwegian folk attire weaved across the floor and couples swung about with such speed that those on the end lifted off the floor.

The 20 high school dancers and three keyboardists from Stoughton High School south of Madison, Wis., brought their long-honed skills and Norwegian culture to Harker Heights and Iduma Elementary schools Monday.

They will continue a spring tour through North and Central Texas, including a stop Tuesday at Clear Creek Elementary School at Fort Hood.

Stoughton is a town of 20,000 in the heart of Wisconsin dairy country with heavy Norwegian influence. Today, the small town attracts 100,000 to an annual celebration of Norwegian independence called Syttende Mai.

The Stoughton High School Norwegian Dancers formed in 1953 and go on spring tour to a different region each year.

The performance at Harker Heights included a variety of cultural pieces that told stories of life in Norway.

One, a weaving dance, represented shepherds searching for sheep and then shearing the animals and threading a loom. It ended with a gauntlet, with couples dancing along a line of their peers.

Another, called "Trasko Dans," involved girls chasing boys and boys responding by scaring the girls.

Little Man, a dance with roots in Denmark, featured a swinging step that caught the audience's attention as dancers rose off the floor.

The final dance, called "The Halling," included a bully making faces at the crowd and dancers attempting to kick a top hat off a cane. That one, director Polly Goepfert said, represents a celebration at harvest time.

Senior leaders Mike Palmer and Grace Goepfert, both younger siblings of previous group members, said the spring tour culminates years of work.

"People in the community look at us a little different when they know we're part of this group," Grace Goepfert said.

Judging on the clapping and cheering in the audience, the Texas students appreciated the humorous storylines and acrobatic feats.

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