Hagen had studied music theory, and her dance teachers were Gerd Bugge, Gerd Kjølaas and Elsa Lindenberg, who had been taught by international modern dancers such as Rudolf von Laban, Martha Graham and Mary Wigman.
In the painting Danserinnen Gerd Kjølaas (The Dancer Gerd Kjølaas), we see how Hagen reproduces Kjølaas’s expressive gestures. Hagen felt that the rhythm and movement in dance was able to lend important impulses to the painting.
This way of interlinking art forms particularly applied to modern art. Dance and movement were very important to writers like Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster and T. S. Elliot. They regarded modern dance as ‘a way to think about their practice’. We can also see several examples of a direct collaboration between dance and the visual arts. Else Hagen thereby connects to aesthetic ideals in international modernism in the way she investigates how dance and movement may‘translate’ the picture plane into rhythmic colour fields and lines.
And I also danced. The human body is one of the most beautiful forms of expression. I would have been a dancer if I’d had the ability. I’m particularly interested in modern character dance, also because it provides me with valuable inspiration for my work.