There are two general ways to categorize Norwegian Folk Dances: Song Dances & Music Dances. The song dances are performed by the individual singing and dancing simultaneously. In the other category, the dancers are accompanied by one or more instruments. NFDSNY Dance Leader, Paul Busse further categorizes the musical dances as four types.
Song Dances – The NFDSNY had about 15 song dances in their repertoire. These dances required learning the Norwegian lyrics and traditionally included at least eight couples. Due to the difficulty of learning language and the decrease in participation it is no longer impossible to do these.
Dance Leader Paul Busse has the lyrics and knows the steps, so these could be taught. For instance, in 2006 the NFDSNY brought back the Troll Dance for a program commemorating 100 years of Norway’s peaceful dissolution from Sweden, which was organized by the Scandinavian East Coast Museum in partnership with the Norwegian Counsulate and other organizations.
(The lyrics and steps are available in Garborg & Semb’s book).
There are four types of music dances and they are as follows: figure, couple, pulse and reel dances.
"It was after becoming dance leader of the Folkdance Society that I finally deciphered the titles of the music dances. Many of the titles of the dances have to do with number of individuals and the place that they are predominately performed, for instance, the dance Attetur fra Aske; breaking down the title as follows, Atte is the number 8, *tur is the type of dance and fra Aske is the town where it is performed. So now we know that it takes eight individuals or four couples to perform this dance and the dance comes from the town of Aske." (Paul Busse)
Couple Dance – would be classified as turning dance (gammal danse) – combine turning figures (Waltz and Polka) with two or three other figures to form a short sequence. Types of dances are Feiar med Vals, Klappdans, Tantoli, Tyrolarvals, Gammal Reinlander.and Parisarpolka.