Dancer Profile with Hjalte Halberg

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Welcome to the Dancer Profile, a closer look at this relatively new company through the eyes of Hjalte Halberg, one of its three founders. It was great to reconnect with Hjalte after a long period of time. With a new son in the mix at home we were well aware that his time was an increasingly rare commodity so we’re glad he found space for this interview. Hopefully this profile answers any questions you may have about this skater-owned, Copenhagen-based, clothing company with the community at its core.

The artwork underpinning the company is as incredible as it is distinctive, making Dancer shirts a firm favourite here at Slam. It has been awesome watching this organic operation evolve each season and we were happy to learn more about the infrastructure, and inspiration, behind it. Find out more about Dancer in Hjalte’s own words from its inception to now…

Hjalte Halberg wearing the shirt from the new Dancer collaboration with New York based company Hardbody

words and interview by Jacob Sawyer. Hjalte Halberg wearing the shirt from the Dancer collaboration with Hardbody. PH: EMILIO CUILAN


When did Dancer make the transition from concept to brand?

It was almost five years ago that me and Anton [Juul] started talking about it, we had spoken about it for a while. He was over working for Norse Projects so we just started brainstorming, and playing around with stuff. He’s crazy good at drawing. We were both drawing a lot at the time but he was the main guy when it came to animation and graphics. We started setting stuff up, made some T-Shirts and got a third guy involved called Kevin Walter who also used to work for Norse. He is very up to date when it comes to clothing and cares about quality and details, he’s the one who knows about the clothing side of things. We also get a little bit of help with production from a guy named Allan. He used to do production for Norse.

The minds behind Dancer-Hjalte Halberg, Anton Juul, and Kevin Wlater

Dancer was founded by these guys. Hjalte Halberg, Anton Juul, and Kevin Walter in Copenhagen. PH: EMILIO CUILAN


So the idea was germinating for a while.

Yeah, Anton used to work for Street Machine as well. He always had a lot of ideas but he could never really get them through because the owner was wack. So he was stuck with all of these creative ideas, and projects, and nowhere to move on with them. Street Machine was dying and the whole scene around the shop here was looking pretty weak in a way. In the end he realised that he needed to do his own thing which is when we started talking about it, it was a no-brainer from that point on. We don’t have any investors or anything, we put down a little bit of money and that’s still what we are doing it all from. No-one gets paid yet, it’s going, and it’s growing, but the clothing business is tough.


“We don’t have any investors or anything, we put down a little bit of money and that’s still what we are doing it all from”


Anton was one of the elders you grew up looking up to right?

Yeah for sure, he’s like the OG, one of the first guys to skate the famous Jarmers Plaza. He was always skating at Fælledparken, the skatepark I grew up skating . I’ve been looking up to him since I was very very little. He’s an OG, he’s 48 now, still skating.

Exhibition Poster for Dancer/Danger, Window on 8th Street, New York, 1920 at Hanover Gallery, London, 1969

Man Ray inspiration. Framed Hanover gallery exhibition poster for Dancer/Danger, Window on 8th Street, New York, 1920


What was the inspiration for the name? Did you find it hard to pick one?

Yeah it was really hard with the name actually. The inspiration is that skating is kind of a dance in a way. Anton had this old piece of art, it is a Man Ray photo collage, and it said Dancer on it. It was just really nice the way it appeared graphically. So we took it from that piece and built on it. The logo is a Lino print, he made the print, put the Dancer logo beneath it, and it looked really sick. We just started working from that. Anton was also nicknamed the ‘Dancing King’ back in the day when he was skating the the mini ramp because he was really good at lip combos.

What is the division of labour between the three of you?

I’m kind of the skater. Anton does all of the graphics more or less. I’ve done a few of the logos. Recently it’s just Anton, I sit next to him quite a lot. We are going to be sitting together all day today, we’re working on this Hardbody collaboration. He is usually making the stuff, and then I offer my input. I do most of the Instagram video stuff, but he does all of the animations. He’ll send me those and I make the video edits, I’ll fuck around with all the skate footage. Kevin does sales, design, and all of the crazy email stuff, he has great eyes for what is going on everrywhere. He is the one who is in contact with all of the shops, and handles production. We are still trying to properly figure out our exact roles. It’s all meshed up but we know what we have to do. I’m still trying to focus on skating, I feel like I still have some good years in me, so that’s my main job, that’s how I pay my rent too. I was at physio this morning trying to maintain.

Burning illustration created to announce Dancer Drop 8

The burning illustration which announced Drop 8 from Dancer


Do you think graffiti has informed your creative process in any way?

For sure it has. I like working with graphics and letters, and so does Anton. I have some kind of understanding of letters from graffiti, but I try to make sure new work is not too inspired by it. I don’t want it to look like a graffiti brand if you know what I mean. It gives you an understanding of the flow of the letters and gives you an extra layer to add to things I think.

It must be quite liberating having a whole other outlet for your creativity, another discipline almost.

It’s really nice, that’s the best part about it. You have something that can take your brain away from skating. Then that motivates you even more to skate when you finally get to do it. It’s so fun and I’m learning a lot along the way. I’m learning more about Premiere and Photoshop. I know them a little but not that well, and Anton is super good at it so he is teaching me which is sick.


“You have something that can take your brain away from skating. Then that motivates you even more to skate when you finally get to do it”

The Triple Logo Hjalte Halberg designed

Logo evolution, the Triple logo Hjlate designed that is still in service


Do you think you have improved as an artist because of it?

For sure, and so has Anton. He is learning along the way as well which is really fun to watch. He is getting so much better at drawing and he has so much patience. When he puts his mind to something, no matter what it takes he is going to do it. I’m really impatient so it’s nice to see how he is doing, things, then I come in all energised and fuck it all up. I think we have a good balance like that.

What graphic have you created that you are the most stoked on?

I’ve made one logo that I really like, its called the triple logo. It says Dancer and you can see some graffiti influence in the design. We still use that logo sometimes and I’m really stoked on that one. That’s the main one I’m hyped on. I did the drawing and then Anton helped me finish it up and make it more clean.

The Dancer 'Dying Flowers' graphic from Drop 8

Beautiful work from Anton Juul, the ‘Dying Flowers’ graphic from Dancer’s 8th drop


What’s your favourite item in the most recent collection, drop 8?

There is a new full fleece set I really like, we made pants, a sweatshirt, and a hat made from ripstop fleece. I really like the Dying Flowers T-Shirt too.

Is there an item you are proud of realising? One which was a challenge to get right.

I really like the pants. They’re the only pants I skate in now, the Belted Simple Pant. It took us a while to make them but I am really happy with them now, we keep fine-tuning them. I like them because they can look how you want to. That was the plan, that everyone can wear them in their own way. I have a huge ass and they’re good on me, and skinny boys can wear them too.

Is making pants the hardest?

It’s super hard and everyone is so different. It’s kind of impossible to make a pair of pants that everyone is going to like but I think the Belted Simple Pant is almost there. It fits everyone in a way.

How do you envision the evolution of the company?

I hope we get to make everything we want, some jackets, and some super-tech nice stuff. I’m pretty happy with where we are right now though. I just want to keep improving the stuff we are making. Not doing more items necessarily but making the ones we do make better each season. To be able to do what we want as brand is sick. I want to keep travelling and doing stuff with other people. We just worked on this Hardbody collab and it was so fun to do. We went to New York, and they came to Copenhagen. It was like a homie vibe all the way through. How things are right now is perfect, if we can keep doing what we’re doing now, its epic.


“How things are right now is perfect, if we can keep doing what we’re doing now, its epic”

Hjalte Halberg keeping the hand-screening tradition alive

Hjalte Halberg hand-screening at Dancer Headquarters in Copenhagen. PH: EMILIO CUILAN


I imagine it must have been super exciting hand-screening stuff at the beginning.

That was fun. We still try to do that actually and we want to do it more. What you can do is also quite limited. It’s good to have some limitations, it makes it easier to come up with things sometimes when you can’t do everything.

Did forging the company in the midst of a global pandemic benefit it in any way?

In one way we had to kind of look at where we were. We tried to make it really local and consider what was going on here without being too focused on making products for the whole world. Of course it’s nice when they have that appeal. But initially it was mainly to have a creative community for us and our friends. I think it was good for us because it maybe slowed down the process, we grew more naturally in a way. I think that happens for brands sometimes, they start pumping out shit right away and it’s hard to keep that up.

What other companies are doing things now that resonate with you?

Hardbody is something we are really into. I look at Limosine a lot because they’re my friends and I like what they are doing. I think it’s cool that it’s owned by the team. Then of course I love HOCKEY too. I try not to look at other brands too much though and just focus on what we are doing.

Hardbody link up, from Copenhagen to NYC

Hardbody link up, CPH to NYC. From Left to Right: Kyota Umeki, Keith Denley, Josh Velez, Hjalte in mask, Chachi Maserati, Meatball, Anton Juul, Kosta from Quartersnacks. PH: EMILIO CUILAN


Can you elaborate on the Hardbody dynamic?

It’s this one guy Emilio [Cuilan], he’s super nice. He’s a filmer and he has been filming skateboarding in New York most of his life, and has a crew of New York heads with him. I met him back when I was living in New York for a little while and we just kind of stuck together. I don’t even really remember how the collab came up. I think he came to Copenhagen with some friends and we just started talking. Then we were joking around forever and settled on making a T-Shirt. Then it grew and now we’re coming out with two T-Shirts, two boards and a shirt and we’ve made a video clip that’s coming out Thursday actually.

Who do you consider to be part of the Dancer team?

Right now we have just hooked up two local rippers in Copenhagen. Their names are Julius Rohberg and William Thomas, you haven’t seen them yet, they are super local guys but we’re working on a clip with them. Then I’m working on a video part with Ben Chadourne. He is coming here on Monday to film me and I’ve been going to Paris to film with him too, so that will hopefully become a full part. I’m constantly looking for riders though, I would love to get a dope skater from London actually. It’s hard to find a guy you really like that is not hooked up already.


“I still think nice quality is the way to go. Our T-Shirts don’t change when you wash them and they last way longer. I feel like people are slowly starting to understand that”


How many shops are you in now?

I think we are in 150 stores now, it’s a lot. But then a lot of skate shops will just carry a few T-Shirts. They all think it’s expensive. Because it’s all made in Portugal and it’s super nice quality it’s hard for some skate shops to carry a lot of it. I still think nice quality is the way to go. Our T-Shirts don’t change when you wash them and they last way longer. I feel like people are slowly starting to understand that. It’s slowly growing, and people are starting to like the pants a lot so hopefully that will get better and better.


I’ve always admired how you forged your reality in Copenhagen. How is it having your own physical retail space, how is that going?

I have tried to, I travelled a lot, that’s why I managed to maybe. It’s so nice having that space, having a place to go to in the morning. It’s been good to go there every day and get a routine going that isn’t just skating. Especially in the winter time, it really saved me. Now that I can’t travel so much because I have kids, I can get to the store and work on things with Anton, it’s nice.

How is it working out as a shop? You went from not really opening it often at the start to beginning to do so more regularly.

Now it is open four days a week. It’s in a pretty dodgy zone in a way, it’s not a shopping district at all. But it’s right next to The Red Square so it’s become a huge hang out spot. It’s like an open free coffee place now which is sick. It’s really nice, people coming by all the time. There are people buying stuff every now and then too, hahaha.

Between commitments to your sponsors, running Dancer, and being a father you must be very busy.

It’s insane, it’s crazy busy. It’s fucked up actually. I’m always doing something now, rarely a second for myself.


“They give me a lot of freedom because they know I’m proactive. I’ve managed to create my own way of working”


Even before starting the company and having kids you had a lot going on. When it comes to your sponsors, Polar, Nike SB, Carhartt. They are all brands who always have projects on the boil.

True, but when it comes to projects for Nike SB for instance, they’re super nice. They are happy with me doing my own stuff and kind of let me work on my own projects. I’ve always been doing stuff with the Parisian guys, I’ve always set up my own trips, and been really active myself. They just trust me with that now it feels like. They give me a lot of freedom because they know I’m proactive. I’ve managed to create my own way of working and they pretty much let me do what I want which is sick. I’m really hyped and super grateful.

All of the latest T-Shirts in Dancer's Drop 8

All of the latest T-Shirt designs from Dancer


I remember Pontus saying in an interview that a pro without goals is lost. It seems to me that you have always been creating goals for that reason. Do you think Pontus’ work ethic has been a blueprint for what productivity means for you?

For sure, he has definitely instilled some productivity in me. Before meeting Pontus I would just go and skate to skate. He is a mission guy though, he is always on a mission, I got some of that from him. I also got a good feeling out of accomplishing the missions. You start hunting those missions more if you do it a lot. I learned a lot from him with that.

How has winter been? I saw Dom Henry post a funny thing about fools spring in Copenhagen and the good weather repeatedly failing to arrive. Did you escape it at any point?

This was the first winter where I didn’t go away at all. I went to Paris once in the winter and it rained the whole trip. Besides that I’ve just been here and it’s been fucking insane. It’s just dark and wet, it’s not even that cold, it’s just super wet the whole time. It never dries when it rains here, it will stay wet for a week and then there’s new rain. The skatepark we have here is fucking shit too, it’s gnarly.

You have another indoor though.

Yeah did you see the clips I posted from a dope marble indoor plaza park? That one is amazing but it doesn’t have any heating so it’s crazy cold in there. It’s colder than outside, it’s like a fridge.

Hjlate escaping the wetness of winter with a fakie manny to fakie 5-0

Hjalte escapes a very wet winter with a freezing fakie manual to fakie 5-0


Did any winter developments gift Copenhagen some new spots?

There are always new spots here actually. I have been really bad at lurking lately but Tor Ström is always out skating with everyone, always on the streets, and he’s always got new spots which is really nice. I feel like people don’t really lurk that much here. There is so much stuff to be found here that no-one knows about. Everyone just skates in the city centre like everywhere else. It’s the same when I go to Paris, most people just skate the same five spots but if you take the train ten minutes outside of the city there are spots everywhere that no-one ever thought about skating.


“Tor Ström is always out skating with everyone, always on the streets, and he’s always got new spots which is really nice…There is so much stuff to be found here that no-one knows about”


What current projects do you have in the works you are excited about?

That part I’m working on with Ben Chadourne is coming up. There is a full Japan Polar video in the works that I’ve been on two trips for. Then there’s the Hardbody video, that’s not a crazy banger project but it’s good vibes for sure and I’m excited about it.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start their own company?

Don’t do it for the money. Also don’t make too much gear right away. Focus on specific items and make them super nice before you move on to the next one.


the new Dancer collaboration with hardbody NYC. Filmed and edited by EMILIO CUILAN with animation by ANTON JUUL



Thanks again to Hjalte Halbeg for taking the time to do this interview. Follow the DancerCPH Instagram, keep your eyes peeled for the Hardbody collaboration, and shop with us for all the latest from Dancer CPH.

Previous profiles for some of the brands we back and the people behind them: Skateboard Cafe with Rich SmithRassvet with Tolia TitaevAlcohol Blanket with Ollie Lock, Life is Unfair with Jack Mitchell, Cleaver with Diego Bucchieri