Voguing with Beethoven

Directed by
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What does Beethoven have to do with Oslo's ballroom scene? This film draws parallels while celebrating uniqueness and personal freedom.

Director Emilie Norenberg, based in Oslo, Norway was approached by one of Scandinavia’s most prestigious music ensembles, the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, to create a visual piece that introduces Beethoven’s music to a new generation of listeners. Shot on 16mm film on the suburban streets of Oslo, high culture meets subculture in a film profiling a young man’s journey to embracing his identity. 

Norenberg "In connection to Beethoven’s 250th jubilee, The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra approached me wanting to create a visual piece that would introduce Beethoven’s music to a younger audience, while also showing how his music is still relevant today. 

Beethoven is often described as an outsider – a man that did not belong to traditional conceptions about how one should think and behave. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, he became one of the greatest classical composers in history. As a humanist, Beethoven was strongly devoted to equality and the right to freedom. Taking inspiration from his life, and drawing parallels to the current social climate, I ultimately wanted to create something that felt joyous and empowering about celebrating your own uniqueness. 

I've always admired the ballroom culture - no one teaches self-love and inclusiveness the way they do. As the style originated in an environment where oppression was common, this has naturally invited the force of freedom into the dance. The voguing community's expression and message are in many ways equivalent to the values that preoccupied Beethoven’s life, namely equality and freedom. Our film is about substituting isolation and rejection with freedom and acceptance, and the importance of acknowledging that you are exactly the way you should be. 

The film is shot on 16mm film, which was always a no brainer for the DoP Andreas Johannessen and I, as we wanted to create something that felt emotive and authentic. Working on a low budget, we had to plan each shot meticulously, which was challenging, but also incredibly rewarding.
Everyone starring in the film are members of the Oslo ballroom community, which was vital for the film to be made. I’m incredibly thankful to them all for embracing the project and to the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra for the creative freedom and trust. "