Danish Language Blog

Telling Stories Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 in Culture

When rain is pouring down your window and Denmark seems a little dull and desolate, the time has come to rediscover your inner qualities. I met the storyteller Helle for an interview…

Helle, you’re a storyteller?

Yes, I’ve been that for 13 or 14 years. For many years I taught drama at a højskole (folk high school*). That was where Vigga Bro, one of Denmark’s great storytellers, asked us if we couldn’t somehow incorporate storytelling in our drama classes…

So she was the one who inspired you to tell your own stories, then?

Of course I’m inspired by Vigga Bro! She, in her turn, was inspired by Dario Fo from Italy. He was co-responsible for bringing the drive to tell to Denmark in the 1980’ies. In the beginning, it was mostly a village theatre-thing. By now, however, a lot of storytelling groups have emerged. Twelve years ago I launched Ry Fortællekreds (Ry Story Circle).

How many are you?

Between 25 and 30. We gather once a month.

What do you usually do at such a gathering?

We do some warm-up of our voices and bodies and then people tell which stories they’ve brought for the evening. Then we distribute the time. We’re rehearsing gestural storytelling. That means we’re not just standing there with arms hanging straight down, using only our mouths… The whole body is talking!

What do you tell?

Some want to tell their life stories, some like myths and legends, some prefer modern stories, some invent their own tales. It is a bit of a mixed bag!

As for myself, I’ve mostly worked with myths and a few modern things. I’ve mostly done storytelling for adults.

There is particularly one myth which is ”mine”. It’s from Alaska and is called ”The Gift of Celebration”. Many people see theatre as a leisure-time activity. I wanted to explain that it was really important to me – the development of your body language as well as your voice! And then all of a sudden a myth says it all…

There was a time when people had no pleasures. The whole life was only work, food, digestion, sleep. They fell asleep after great toil and wake up to the same thing. And their minds were consumed by loneliness.


Read on tomorrow!

*Note: højskole can’t really be translated to English. That particular kind of school will hopefully be the subject of a separate blog post!

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Milo Lentine:

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    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Milo Lentine Thanks Milo!
      Hope to see you back soon! 🙂