Ethan “Esten” Bjelland enjoys stage acting and directing, nerdy linguistic jokes, concerts, food with friends, paperclips, Eurovision Song Contest, youth empowerment, cello, discussions on intersectionality, Scandinavian Rap, and salty black licorice. He is also on the board for Theatre Unbound, a Twin Cities-based company dedicated to producing and supporting theatre and art by women.
He started learning Norwegian when he was six years old at Skogfjorden, Concordia’s Norwegian Language Village. Growing up in Decorah, he was a Nordic folk dancer for 10 years, took figure carving and rosemaling, worked at Vesterheim Museum, and tutored and led Norwegian language lessons.
After 10 years as a Skogfjorden villager, and a few trips to Norway and Europe under my belt, he began studying Russian and Norwegian at Luther College (Post Secondary), and eventually pursued his BA through Gustavus Adolphus College, where he studied Theatre and Scandinavian Studies, including Swedish conversation, Danish, and introductory Icelandic. His areas of focus were Theatre in translation, Theatre of the Oppressed, and Gender and Multiculturalism in Scandinavia.
After college, Ethan began acting and translating full time, including a year and a half with Commonweal Theatre Company in Lanesboro, MN. He also briefly managed one of the three US stores for Moods of Norway, a bright and splashy suiting brand from Norway, before eventually coming to manage communications and marketing for Norway House.