Nisse Polka

Nisse Polka

This past summer I was in Finland at JaSeSoi Ry’s International Music Village (Finnish Orff Association).  It was amazing and I loved my time both in Finland and making music with musicians and teachers from 14 countries.  I also fell a little in love with the Scandinavian lifestyle and their connection to the outdoors.  Did you know there are 188,000 lakes and more than 1,000,000 saunas in Finland?!

JaSeSoi Ry has put together an amazing resource online called “Nordic Sounds”.  There are songs, games, and dances from Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Sweden!  Pronunciation videos, background info, teaching ideas and videos make this site exceptionally user friendly! Check it out here!

When I came back home, I began looking for more music and dances from this area of the world. Via Facebook, I came across a dance teacher in Portland, Oregon, who has been a tremendous help to me. Christie teaches Scandinavian dancing to children 5 years old and up to adults.  She has been incredibly generous and due to some technical problems with sharing music files, she even sent me 2 CD’s via snail mail!

Many of the dances are new to me, including the one I am sharing today. This is called the Nisse Polka, though Christie calls it the Nixie Polka and her students call it the Caterpillar Dance.  The Nisse is a Christmas figure – read more below! Many thanks to Christie (again) for her help in putting all of this together and for being so willing to share!  On to the dance!

Here is the dance performed by Christie’s kids at a Scandinavian celebration.

Aimee Curtis Pfitzner

Aimee Curtis Pfitzner has been the Lower School Music Director at Cannon School in Concord, NC for 23 years and has taught music for 27 years. She holds a Masters of Music degree from UNC-Greensboro and completed Level I Orff-Schulwerk Training at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, Levels II and III at UNLV, and Master's Level at the University of Memphis. Aimee is a frequent presenter at music workshops and conferences in the US and Canada. Her books, Hands to Hands, Hands to Hands Too, Painted Music, Sing a Song, Play a Game, and Playful Possibilities are available from Beatin’ Path Publications. She is passionate about music making, gardening, adoption, and anything and everything creative; painting, zendoodling, digital scrapbooking, making jewelry, writing music, crafting, and sewing. When not teaching or writing music, singing, or creating, she can be found musically musing on her blog,

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  1. Gwen Sarya on December 13, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    This new dance was great! I teach children’s folk dancing at a Danish family camp in Wisconsin in addition to teaching preK-6th grade in Michigan. I’m always looking for more Scandinavian dances and this fit the bill. Thank you so much!

    • Aimee Pfitzner on December 20, 2018 at 9:39 am

      YAY! So glad to hear this – my students love this dance! Gwen, I should put you in touch with Christie- she has been incredibly helpful to me in passing along some Scandinavian dances. Send me an email at and I will put you two in touch! 🙂

  2. Steve Damon on December 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you, Aimee. I love this – and I’m sure the kids will too. One of the school secretaries loves anything that look like a gnome. She’ll love this.

    • Aimee Pfitzner on December 20, 2018 at 9:41 am

      I love the Nisse! The children love the dance and also learning about this frequently seen mischief maker!

  3. Ronni Cherrnay on December 17, 2018 at 8:26 am

    thank you for sending this out with all the videos. It looks easy, and fun and came at just the right time to fill out this weeks plans. 🙂

  4. Vicky Suarez on December 17, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Thank you so much, Aimee, for sharing this rich lesson material! It will be fun to implement some of these ideas with my students this week.

    • Aimee Pfitzner on December 20, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Most welcome Vicky! Hope it has gone well!

  5. Katherine on December 17, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you for highlighting the Scandinavian Festival Dancers in Astoria, Oregon! I have wanted to learn one of these folk dances to teach my students for many years and now I have the resources to do so! I appreciate your lesson plans very much!

    • Aimee Pfitzner on December 20, 2018 at 9:42 am

      Hi Katherine, thanks for your comment. Let me know if you would like more of these- the teacher who shared Nisse/Nixie Polka with me shared several others! My email is Happy holidays!

  6. Brigid Finucane on December 17, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    This was charming ~ and it will be a big hit with my kiddos. I like that everyone gets a chance to lead the “train.” Thank you for sharing. “Nordic Sounds” looks like a treasure trove of wonderful material as well.

    • Aimee Pfitzner on December 20, 2018 at 9:44 am

      Hi Brigid, thanks for your comment. It is such a cute dance and I also love that everyone gets to be the leader. Nordic Sounds is amazing – I plan to spend some more time over the holidays getting some new pieces ready to learn with my students. 🙂 Happy holidays!

  7. rusudan chichinadze on December 17, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Thank you,thank you so much, it will be fun for my lovely students.

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