Here and there: Third time lucky
Many of you may know a Norwegian who has moved to America, but how many know an American who has settled in Norway?
According to Statistics Norway, just 7,450 Americans reside in Norway, which has a total population of about 5,225,000. Considering some 550,000 foreign nationals live in the country, we’re a small slice of Norway’s demographic pie.
The Norwegian American would like to introduce you to some of these ordinary Americans living in Norway and shed some light on how and why they ended up here.
Lauren Hauser came to Norway via New York City and Reykjavík, Iceland.
“This is my third life,” says the former ballerina at the New York City Ballet who worked with such legends as George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins in the 1980s.
Dream come true
“Dancing was a dream come true. I was so lucky to have a career doing what I loved most of all. My former colleagues are all a part of my extended family, we were so close and shared so much,” she reminisces.
Like most ballerinas, Lauren retired in her mid-30s, and not long after she moved to Reykjavík with her Icelandic husband. In Iceland, she had two children and continued to work in the performing arts as ballet master at the Iceland Dance Company and a teacher. After 16 years in the island country, she and her husband divorced.
Lauren contemplated moving back to New York City but unexpectedly heard about a job with the Norwegian National Ballet in Oslo.
She was hired as planning coordinator at the Norwegian dance company and relocated to Oslo with two young sons in 2009. Her workplace is Norway’s famous architectural landmark, the Oslo Opera House, designed by Oslo/NYC architecture firm Snøhetta.
“I have the best colleagues in the world! And some of my former colleagues from New York City Ballet come here to work and it’s an extra treat to meet them again. We have a fantastic ballet repertoire. Both my father and mother worked in the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She was a dancer and he was property master, so I grew up backstage at the Met. It’s like home working in the theatre.”
Lauren, 58, retains the limber body of a dancer. “I love yoga but don’t go as often as I should. Like most dancers I have scoliosis and yoga really helps my back. Walking my dog helps a lot.”
Lauren recently bought an apartment on Oslo’s eastside and lives there with her 19-year-old son and dog, Depill. Her oldest son, 21, moved back to Iceland to study.
Lauren feels privileged to live in Norway. She sometimes misses New York’s cultural diversity, “but there is also much going on here in Oslo. Besides seeing all the ballet productions at the National Ballet, I try to see the freelance dance productions as well as operas, concerts, and plays.”
She appreciates the generous support the arts and artists get in Norway, but recognizes change. Norway’s dependence on oil as a major source of income and persistent low oil prices is putting pressure on Norwegian cultural endeavors.
“We feel it here in the Opera.”
Lauren is unsure if she will stay in Norway when retirement rolls around. “I miss family and friends, but I only know America as a young single ballet dancer. Anymore I don’t really feel American, Icelandic, or Norwegian.”
Best of three worlds
Lauren’s decision to move to Norway was primarily made with her children in mind.
“I was fortunate to land a great job, but the deciding factor was the life I could give my children as a single mom. Norway’s a beautiful, friendly country, and similar to the life we had in Iceland—with the added plus of being close to Iceland for visits.
“I consider myself very lucky to be where I am at this point in my life and couldn’t be more happy with the way things have turned out.
“I really feel like I have the best of all three worlds here.”
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.