Elle Sofe Company expands on the groundbreaking work of Indigenous choreographer, director and film-maker Elle Sofe Sara. A full-time artist since 2007, Sara founded the company in 2022 to make the work—her own and her collaborating partners’—accessible to the wider world. We strive to be innovative, kindhearted and unifying.
The company draws strongly from Sámi culture, which is Indigenous to the Northern parts of nations now known as Sweden, Norway, and Finland; and from Russia’s Murmansk Oblast. A culture born of a fierce climate of ice, the animal world, and quiet intimacy. This work is deeply human and thus available to people of all identities and abilities. We all yearn to belong, to feel held by others, to feel at home in the natural world and, perhaps, to navigate our lives with the use of ancestral knowledge. We welcome you to an old world of new possibilities.
Elle Sofe Company includes work created by X number of performers, and often involves audience interaction. We co-create unique experiences of dance, yoik (Sámi traditional song) and music, productions that imprint on the mind and give rise to new perspectives. We truly believe that art can change the world for the better by touching people on a deep personal level, creating change in societal structures. Like opening your eyes in a snowstorm and seeing something unexpected.
In 2021, Sara premiered the performance Vástádus eana – The answer is land which has since toured internationally, receiving the 2021/2022 Norwegian critics award for dance. In 2023, she choreographed BIRGET; ways to deal, ways to heal for Carte Blanche dance company. This performance also received the critics award and is currently touring. Sara is now developing her first feature film, ÁRRU, a yoik musical about surviving abuse.
Elle Sofe Company reaches beyond borders to encounter and co-create with a diversity of people, cultures and lifestyles.
ESC received funding from 2023- 2026 from the Norwegian Arts Council which allowed us to professionalize the structure and employ producer Maiken Garder. The company has two full time employees while the rest are hired for projects and tours. The administration is based in Guovdageaidnu and Hammerfest in Northern Norway, while the touring team is based all around Norway and Northern Finland. We rehearse in spaces available and in collaboration with institutions and local organizations.
Elle Sofe Sara is described as one of the most interesting and important choreographers in her generation in Norway.
Sara’s work expands upon seemingly mundane, often overlooked areas of Sámi physicality— unspoken rituals that have escaped the vice grip of colonialism. In this Sara uncovers a space in which the past and the present coincide.
While her choreography is known for its playful approach, she also delves into taboo subjects such as trauma, abuse, and suicide. As an Indigenous artist, Sara seeks to create work that resonates as strongly for her community as it does for the art world.
Sara´s critically acclaimed choreographic works tour extensively nationally and internationally. In addition to working as a choreographer, she has also made several award-winning short films and documentaries. Sara also co-founded Daíddadállu, a Sámi indigenous contemporary art collective.
She grew up and lives in Guovdageaidnu, Sápmi / Finnmark. And when she is not working with choreography or film, or traveling for work, Sara can be found marking reindeer calves with her children or reading animal tracks in the snow.
Elle Sofe Sara (r.1984) lea koreográfa, bagadalli ja filbmadahkki.
Elle Sofe barggut leat vuosttaš čalbmái árgabeaivválaš áššit, dávjá oasit sápmelaččaid gorutlihkastagain mat leat vajálduvvan ja vierut maid kolonialisma ii leat váikkuhan. Elle Sofe rahpá saji dakkár vejolašvuhtii mas ovddeš ja dálá áigi deaivvadit. Su koreográfiijain lea dávja suohtas vuohki lahkonit fáttáide, muhto son maiddái čiekŋuda tabu-áššiide, nugo traumaide, veagalváldimii ja iešsoardimii. Elle Sofe lea álgoálbmotdáiddár ja son vállje hábmet bargguid mat áddejuvvojit seammá bures dan servodagas gos son ieš orru, nugo dat dahket dáiddamáilmmis. Internašunála dásis lea Elle Sofe hábmen bargguid ovttas Liu Chiin (Kiinnás), Wimmein (Suomas) ja Lana Hanseniin (Ruonáeatnamis). Elle Sofe lea maid nubbi sudnos gii vuođđudii Dáiddadálu, sámi fágaidrasttildeaddji dáiddár fierpmádat.
Elle Sofe lea Unit-Ántte Rávnna ja Heik- Erke Niillasa váhkar, Ávžžis Guovdageainnus bajásšaddan. Sus lea koreográfiija-master Oslo Dáiddaallaskuvllas (2010) ja dánsa-bachelora Londona Laban Trinity skuvllas (2006). Son lei Davvi-Norgga riemuid dáiddár profiila (2020, 2021), lea vuoitán Moon Jury bálkášumi Imagine Native Filbmafestiválas (2019). Son lea maid okta njealji filbmadahkkis gii lea válljejuvvon Talent Norge filbmadahkkiprográmmii (2020-2023). Go son ii leat bargame koreográfiijain dahje filmmain, dahje bargomátkkis, de lea ealloravddas isida mielde dahje mánáid oahpaheame árbevirolaš bargguid.
Performers and more
Presented by DanceHouse and the Northwest Coast Indigenous company Dancers of Damelahamid, this work is a far cry from any dance moves you’ll see at a Taylor Swift concert. That said, Elle Sofe Sara’s work is every bit as contemporary and modern as anything in pop music. This is decidedly not a museum piece presentation of Indigenous culture.
As for the choreography, don’t expect anything resembling what you might associate with “folk dance” in Vástádus eana – The answer is land, which won the 2022 Norwegian Critics Award.
Similar to Indigenous peoples in Canada, the Sámi are reckoning with generational trauma and the need to rebuild and heal. Sofe Sara thinks the cultural and historical similarities in Sámi and Indigenous people in Canada are reflected in Vástádus eana where community and reclamation are central.
The embattled culture of Norway’s Indigenous Sami people is at the heart of work by Elle Sofe Sara, a 39-year-old dancemaker and filmmaker whose presentations over the past several years have alerted European audiences to her people’s history.
Les danseuses font quelques mouvements avant d’entonner une incantation, demandant à la Terre la permission de l’habiter. Instantanément, le public est enivré et les suivrait partout. Ce que fait la foule après ce numéro d’ouverture saisissant.
2023 Telenor Cultural Award
2023 Hedda nomination for Birget; ways to deal, ways to heal
2023 The Norwegian Dance Critics award for Birget – ways to deal, ways to heal
2022 The Norwegian Dance Critics award for vástádus eana – the answer is land
2020 – 2023 Filmmaker talent, Talent Norway and MERFILM
2020 – 2021 Artist profile Arctic Arts Festival
2019 Guest Curator, Untaming tradition at CODA dance festival
2019 Moon Jury Price For Ribadit shortfilm, Imagine Native film festival
Elle Sofe Sara has a clear aesthetic message, and with a creative approach that crosses the borders of artistic expressions, she stands out as an innovator of performing arts.
Elle Sofe Sara’s art is boundless communication. The jury’s reasoning Telenor Culture Prize 2023