Scandinavian in spirit

Photo courtesy of Christina Busse. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Paul Busse didn’t have one drop of Scandinavian heritage, but taught Scandinavian folk dance for over 40 years.

Scandinavian East Coast Museum recognizes Paul Busse as their Scandinavian of the Year 2012

Scandinavian East Coast Museum

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Although, Paul Busse had not one drop of Scandinavian blood, he had been instrumental in preserving, sharing and documenting Scandinavian culture, and for this reason the Scandinavian East Coast Museum names him Scandinavian of the Year 2012.

Paul was born Oct. 15, 1939, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He attended New Utrecht High School. After he graduated he took a job at Banker’s Trust where his time was spent doing complicated data entry one of the city’s first computers. It was as big as a house.

Paul joined the Army in 1962, a patriotic move made to defend his country in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He trained in Fort Dix and Alabama before he was shipped off for France. During his military service he traveled all over Europe. After returning to the States he stayed connected to the military by taking a civilian job in the Signal Air Corps and also served in the Army reserves for almost 20 years.

Paul’s interest was not limited to his patriotism, his other interest was in dance. He realized this after attending the Fred Astaire Dance Studio on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. His talent was evident and he quickly became a dance teacher and competed in amateur ballroom dance competitions in Atlantic City, New York City and Las Vegas.

Paul was introduced to Norwegian folk dancing through friends he met in a Bowling League and they invited him to join the Norwegian Folk Dancing Society of New York.  Here he later became the Dance Leader. He also worked with, taught and the Nansen Lodge Folk Dancers. He loved it so much that he dedicated 40 years of his life to learning and teaching Norwegian Folk Dance.  He and the Society traveled all over the tri-state area and as far away as Norway to perform.

Paul was also a very thorough researcher, documenting the history of Norwegian folk dance and how it had evolved.  He was especially adept at sharing how certain types of dance had connections to other parts of Europe, i.e. polkas, shaddish, Scottish).

In recent years, Paul worked to create with the Scandinavian East Coast Museum’s first Virtual Museum component on their website, which documented the Norwegian Folk Dance Society of New York. For the last two years he voluntarily taught at the Christ Church After School. The children he taught performed Norwegian Folk Dances at the After School’s Multicultural Festival and at the SECM’s Viking Fest.

For all of these reasons we honor and thank Paul for his contributions to the Scandinavian community, by naming him Scandinavian of the Year 2012.  Our only regret is that this recognition is being given posthumously.

This article originally appeared in the June 22, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.