Sixteen-Year-Old Admitted to Prestigious San Francisco Ballet School

Sixteen-year-old ballet dancer Logi Guðmundsson has been admitted to the prestigious San Francisco Ballet School in the US this fall. RÚV reports that Logi has been offered a full scholarship to attend the school.

Logi was inspired to start dancing ballet after seeing a production of Billy Elliott at the Reykjavík City Theatre when he was eight years old. He’s dedicated himself to his craft ever since, practicing six days a week, doing intense stretches every night, and focusing, in particular, on agility. “It’s really demanding. You’re always practicing, always [trying to] do better than last time,” he told an interviewer before demonstrating a front split. (He uses a block under his front ankle, he said, to help him be able to stretch even more.) Intense as his practice is, however, Logi always saves Sundays to spend time with friends and enjoy non-dance-related activities.

Screenshot, RÚV

Logi was offered a place at the school after Helgi Tómasson, the artistic director and principal choreographer for the San Francisco Ballet, invited him to participate in a course there this summer.

“The San Francisco Ballet School is one of the best in the world,” said Guðmundur Helgason, principal of the Icelandic Ballet Academy. “It’s really hard to get into a school like that. I’m incredibly proud of [Logi] and look forward to see what comes of this.”

Prime Minister Dances for Duchenne Awareness

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir got her groove on for a good cause on Friday when she took part in the ‘Dancing for Duchenne’ awareness-raising challenge this Friday.

Hulda Björk Svansdóttir, an Icelandic woman who is mother to a son with the disease, started the weekly challenge as part of her ‘Hope with Hulda’ project, which aims to share a little joy while also educating people about this severe form of muscular dystrophy.

Katrín danced to “Double Trouble,” from the recent (and locally beloved) Will Ferrell movie Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga.

Hulda and her son Ægir Þór have previously danced with family members, the Reykjavík city council, doctors, and even Ægir Þór’s whole school. Post-COVID, they’ve kept the fun going with weekly Zoom dance sessions and have danced with people from all different places and walks of life: a family based in Canada, Icelandic children’s book author Ævar vísindamaður (Ævar the Scientist), and friends in Reykjavík. They even danced during a camping trip on Iceland’s National Day, June 17.

Katrín shared the video on her Facebook page, writing, “To my mind, Ægir Þór and other children who struggle with difficult and incurable diseases are our role models. They learn early on that things that are all too normal for kids around them are a lot harder for them. Taking even a few steps is very difficult, and they have less stamina. But children like Ægir Þór show us that they do not let diseases and the related challenges stand in their way. Fearlessness, perseverance, and joy are what stayed with me after my chat with Hulda and Ægir Þór today.”

Watch the Prime Minister’s full dance here.

Kvennaskólinn Students Celebrate Peysuföt Day

Reykjavík’s Kvennaskólinn, or Kvennó, upper secondary school held its annual Peysuföt Day on Friday, RÚV reports. This is an almost century-old tradition wherein the second-year students dress in Iceland’s national costume and celebrate with traditional songs and dancing.

Peysuföt is the name for the Icelandic women’s national costume that was introduced in the 19th century. As explained on the Icelandic National Costume website site, 19th century peysuföt was simpler and less decorative than the costume it proceeded from, which was known as faldbúningur. Generally black or dark blue, it consisted of a tasseled cap, woolen skirt with a patterned apron, and long-sleeved jacked, or peysa, from which it takes its name. In the 20th century, “peysuföt…evolved with changing times, fashion trends and the availability of materials,” continues the site, but it still included the tightly-fitted peysa, the plackets and cuffs of which were now “trimmed with velvet, and the sleeves were slightly puffed at the shoulder.” A lace or embroidered stomacher was also added, as was a large silk bow tied at the neck.

Accompanied by an accordionist, Kvennó students began their celebrations on Friday by singing and dancing in front of the Ministry for Culture before moving along to a nursing home where they performed for residents and staff. There was more dancing and singing in front of one of the buildings on the students’ own campus, as well as at another nursing home and in Ingólfstorg square downtown after lunch. Students were then served cocoa and cake back at their school and were treated to a more expansive spread of treats than usual this year, in honor of the 100-year anniversary of their student association.

See a video of previous Peysuföt Day celebrations held by the Versló school:

Preparations for this year’s celebrations at Kvennaskólinn have been underway for a long time, as in addition to learning a number of songs for the occasion, the students were also taught to dance the skottís folk dance.

See the skottís performed:

Interestingly, students at Kvennaskólinn were required to wear the national costume to school from 1874, when Kvennaskólinn first opened as a women-only upper secondary institution, until 1906. (Kvennó became a co-ed school in 1977.) Although it was no longer required dress after 1906, many students still wore the national dress as something of a uniform until 1920, when only a few students are remembered as maintaining the tradition. The first official Peysuföt Day was initiated by students the following year, in 1921, and has been celebrated every year since.