The Norwegian National Ballet in the National Museum
The iconic painting Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord is brought to life as a ballet in the Light Hall at the National Museum, 8th, 9th and 10th March.
171 years ago, a ballet performance was created, inspired by Tidemand and Gude’s painting Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord (1848). In March 2024, we present excerpts from the original ballet in combination with a modern reinterpretation. The performance is a collaboration between the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet and the National Museum.
The original ballet
The creator of the original ballet was the Danish choreographer August Bournonville (1805–1879), a central figure in both international ballet history and Danish cultural life. The ballet premiered in 1853 at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen. A popular success, it was performed no fewer than 173 times. That original production of the work was never staged in Norway, probably because it was seen as presenting a Danish interpretation of Norwegianness at a time when many in Norway were demanding national independence. Although by this time, Norway was in a political union with Sweden, culturally it was still under the influence of the period of Danish rule. A version of the ballet, choreographed by Flemming Flindt and with music by Egil Monn-Iversen, was, however, shown at the Norwegian Opera in 1982.
“Now that our two institutions are jointly working on a performance at last, the essential thing is dialogue – between the visual arts and the dance, between tradition and the new, and between different ideas around Norwegianness.”
Ingrid Lorentzen, Artistic Director of the National Ballet
Reconstruction and reinterpretation
The performance that will be staged in the National Museum in 2024 touches on themes such as belonging, exclusion – and love. The ballet is in two parts. In the first, choreographer Dinna Bjørn reconstructs passages from Bournonville’s original ballet. The music for this part uses the original score by the composer Holger Simon Paulli (1810–1891), which has not been performed since the work was last staged in 1929. The second part consists of a new interpretation created by choreographer Melissa Hough, with music specially composed by Peter Baden. The costumes for both parts are designed by artist Ahmed Umar.
“Just think, one of the most famous paintings in the National Museum was, in its day, the inspiration for a popular ballet! We are thrilled to be collaborating with the National Ballet on this production in the Light Hall, and not least to be showing a forgotten but important episode in the history of Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord.”
Ingrid Røynesdal, Director of the National Museum
Free introduction (in norwegian) 45 minutes before the performance starts
Dinna Bjørn, choreographer
Dinna Bjørn (b. 1947, Denmark) is a ballet dancer, choreographer, Bournonville expert, and honorary professor at Oslo National Academy of the Arts. She was formerly ballet director at the National Ballet in Norway (1990–2002) and at the Finnish National Ballet (2001–08).
Bjørn is currently Bournonville consultant for the Royal Danish Theatre’s Ballet School in Copenhagen. She is a regular Bournonville teacher and instructor at the European School of Ballet in Amsterdam. In 2023, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Cattolica, Italy, for her work in communicating the Bournonville tradition to younger generations.
Melissa Hough, choreographer
Melissa Hough (b. 1985, USA) is a soloist with the Norwegian National Ballet and a choreographer. She has previously been principal soloist with the Boston Ballet and the Houston Ballet. Hough joined the Norwegian National Ballet in 2013, becoming a soloist there in 2014. In 2017, she was awarded the Tom Wilhelmsen Foundation Opera and Ballet Prize for her work as a soloist and choreographer in Norway.
As a choreographer, Hough has created ballets in Norway and the USA, both on commission and on her own initiative. Past choreographies include Epic Short (2016), Bout of the Imperfect Pearl (2019), and 5 Ballerinas (2020). In 2023, she directed and choreographed the short film Diary 20.
Ahmed Umar, costume design
Ahmed Umar (b. 1988, Sudan) has an MFA in medium and material-based art from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (2016). He works with various materials and within various forms of expression.
Umar’s work has been shown at, among other places, the Sydney Biennale, the National Museum, Oslo (2020), and in the solo exhibition Glowing Phalanges at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo and Bergen Kunsthall (2023). A bunad he designed in 2018, combining inspiration from Sudan and Hallingdal, is currently on display at Valdres Folk Museum. Umar has contributed sculptures for the interiors of Oslo’s new Government Quarter. His works have been purchased for the collection of the National Museum and by other national museums.
Peter Baden, composer/sound designer
Peter Baden (b. 1979, Norway) is a composer and music producer. He has had overall responsibility for music at major theatres such as the Nationaltheatret, Oslo, and Den Nationale Scene, Bergen. He has won several Hedda awards and completed commissions for the Ultima Festival, Bergen International Festival, the Arctic Arts Festival, and the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet.
Baden’s compositions for orchestra have been performed by, among others, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Kammersymphonie Berlin. He has composed music for film, TV, and several Netflix series, including Christmas Storm (2022) and Midsummer Night (2024). Baden also created the music for the National Museum’s new audio guide.
Scenography: Even Børsum
Animator: Kristin Bøyesen
Light design: Kyrre Heldal Karlsen
Music, transcription / programming: Knut Sævik and Lars Monstad
Costume production: Johanna Sutinen
Concept: Nina Denney Ness, Curator Education
The production is a collaboration between the National Museum and the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. It is part of the Norwegian National Ballet’s initiative CHOREOGRAPHY: Artemisia. This project takes its name from the painter Artemisia Gentileschi, who is also represented in the National Museum’s collection exhibition.
In Dinna Bjørn's version of Bournonville's Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord: Xander Parish, Ricardo Castellanos, Leonardo Basilio, Daniela Cabrera and Sonia Vinograd.
In Melissa Hough's new piece: Yolanda Correa, Idun Sofie Bækken, Daniela Cabrera, Leonardo Basilio, Ricardo Castellanos and Patrick Blomberg from the Norwegian National Ballet and Kristian Alm, former dancer in NNB. Hallgrim Hansegård and Marnie Fiebig, both of which are part of the dance company FRIKAR.