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Hans Christian Andersen performer moves to Minot

Andrea Johnson/MDN Rolf Kristian Stang, a longtime performer in the Norsk Hostfest in the Schools program, has moved to Minot permanently.

Rolf Kristian Stang has educated generations of children in Minot about Scandinavian culture through storytelling and acting the part of Hans Christian Andersen with the Norsk Hostfest in the Schools program.

Now Stang has decided to make Minot his new home.

Stang arrived in his new home just in time for an 88th birthday party with good friends in Minot and the start of another Norsk Hostfest.

“I’ve been lucky,” said Stang, who said he decided to relocate to Minot from his former home in part because the COVID-19 pandemic “has knocked the wind out of New York City.”

He has also made many friends in Minot over the past three decades, some of whom have been calling on him while he is settling into his new apartment.

Friends threw the birthday party for him at Sammy’s Pizza last week. “It turned out to be a wonderful party,” said Stang.

He said he is already finding that he is running into a lot of people who recognize him. “Just how many is becoming clear to me wherever I go,” said Stang. “I was just out now and I ran into three people I knew.”

Stang said he got a haircut last week from a barber who had cut his hair for the first time in 1993 and remembered him well enough to comment on the way he should trim his beard.

He said his friends from New York and his many adopted grandchildren worry about him now that he has moved so far away. Stang has reassured them that he will be happy here and there are lots of people in Minot who share his love for the arts, just on a smaller scale. He has also invited his New York friends to visit him in Minot, including the 7-year-old honorary granddaughter who once gave him a special “trophy” as an award for wearing his mask so diligently during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stang, the son of Norwegian emigrant parents, has had a distinguished career as a writer, character actor, translator, composer, singer, teacher of language, and coach of vocal repertoire and was once knighted for his contributions by King Harald V of Norway, according to a 2015 article in The Norwegian America.

He loves working with kids and said he has found that children learn best when they are able to participate in their learning and interact.

He first worked with the Norsk Hostfest in the Schools program, which has been held in conjunction with the Norsk Hostfest, in the early 1990s. He will perform again as Hans Christian Andersen in the schools, starting today, and will also be performing at the Hostfest this week.

The Norsk Hostfest has not been held for a couple of years but will be held at the North Dakota State Fair Center again this week after a two-year absence.

“I very often will talk to kids beforehand and then get the storytelling linked into where they are in their class,” said Stang of the approach he took to working with children. “Well, I go to the third grade. In my research, I found out from teachers, I asked them, ‘When can a kid first tell a joke?’ And they said, ‘Well nine or ten they can tell one that’s a little intricate.’ And I said, ‘When do they first, at least mentally, criticize their parents?’ ‘Oh, that would be about nine and ten too.’ ‘And I said, ‘Well, then I’m going to the third, sometimes second, sometimes fourth, basically to the third grade, when I have a critical audience’ … They’re starting to articulate their feelings and their thoughts. So that’s why I started in third grade.”

Stang is looking forward to its return and to seeing all his friends at the Hostfest.

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