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Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers

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1909 outside The New Crown in Handsworth

Handsworth is a suburb of Sheffield, in recent history a mining village. In this area there developed, some unknown time in the past, a sword dance for eight men, which is still performed today to the traditional pattern. The dancers wear dragoon-type uniforms and carry long-swords of inflexible steel about one metre in length. Shortly after the beginning of the ten-minute dance, they join to form a complete ring, and perform a series of complex ‘figures’, ending with a ‘lock’ of enmeshed swords, which can be carried aloft by one man. Traditionally performances take place at Christmas in the locality, and at functions and events by invitation at other places throughout the year.

...it is certainly one of the best and most inspiriting of the dances that still survive in Yorkshire

Cecil J. Sharp, The Sword Dances of Northern England, 3 pt. (London: Novello, 1911-13), III, page 37

 


We are seeking new dancers.
Practices take place on Wednesday evenings 8 till 10pm in the Handsworth Parish Centre (then straight to the pub). Being a member of the team brings the opportunity to take part in many interesting events and above all, to contribute to this famous local tradition.