Norway has a relatively short dance history. This may in part be due to our unions with Sweden and Denmark, as Norway did not have a royal family, nor aristocratic patrons, under which ballet and dance could develop and flourish. But despite its short history, dance has developed greatly, especially post-WW2, and today we have a multitude of Norwegian dance of high quality.
‘Ny Norsk Ballett’, was established in 1948, as Norway’s first independent company, and is seen as the forerunner to The National Ballet. The founding of a workers union for dancers in 1947, was markedly earlier than in other countries. ‘NoDa’ has continually worked to improve the conditions and rights for dancers, and has contributed to the proliferation of dance in Norway today.

Establishing the full-time education at ‘Ballettinstituttet’ (now ‘Den Norske Balletthøyskole’) and ‘The Norwegian Opera’ in the middle of the 60s led to the education of more dancers and choreographers, which in turn led to the establishment of independent companies.

There were no permanent positions beyond The National Ballet, so dancers would freelance, and as a result several independent companies were established in the 70s and 80s. Their directions would vary, but many were based on contemporary dance. This was in contrast to the classical direction dominating The National Ballet. In 1979 State ballet college/‘Statens Balletthøgskole’ was established. The educational institutions have been, and are today, very important for the development of Norwegian dance.

A public funding policy for independent performance art was first introduced in the 1980s, in the form of funding of ‘running costs’ as well as artistic development, for independent companies. The policy has since changed many times, resulting in a definition of the funds as ‘project funding’. The consequences of this have been that many long running and stable independent companies ceased to exist, and work shifted towards being defined as individual projects. A choreographer would run a project and collaborate with artists and performers varying from production to production. This kind of production dynamics strongly  favouring project-based work, has on the downside contributed to a less stable work situation for dancers.

In 1989 the independent company Carte Blanche was nationalized, and relocated to Bergen. The aim was to strengthen the art of dance outside Oslo, but the decision led to extensive controversy in the dance profession at the time. Carte Blanche is today the national contemporary dance company, and the only company bar The National Ballett with set annual funding. Permanent positions are only available in these two companies, leading to all choreographers and the majority of dancers freelancing. Contemporary dance is the dominating dance form on the Norwegian independent dance scene.

In 1993 Norway showcased dance as an independent art form, in their Year of Dance. As a result, ‘Senter for Dansekunst’ (now ‘Dance Information Norway’) was established with funding from the Ministry of Culture. The founding of such a resource centre for dance, with several employees, led to further the professionalism of dance and the centre has contributed to the positive development of the art of dance. The centre was also given the task of establishing a ’Dansens Hus’ . Today ’Dansens Hus’ is a reality and opened in February 2008. A historical and defining moment has been reached for dance in Norway.