Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers


A new chapter for Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers.
Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers are delighted to announce that from January 2018 the team will be operating as a mixed club - giving women the opportunity to dance longsword regularly in Sheffield for the first time.
To preserve its 130+ year heritage, the traditional Handsworth eight-man dance will remain all-male. However, all other dances performed by the team will have the opportunity to be mixed, and it is hoped that eventually all-male, all-women and mixed dances will sit side-by-side in the repertoire.
Simon Brock, team captain, explained why the team has decided to become mixed:
“Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers are in a great position at the moment, with several new and young dancers joining in the last year or so. This allowed us to attend a number of festivals over the summer, including representing England at an international sword dance festival in Belgium alongside teams from Germany, the Czech Republic, Scotland and Belgium.
“We’ve seen a huge resurgence of interest in the team, and in traditional sword dancing generally, with many women attending our open workshops in the autumn. We hope we can help teach the dance to a new audience and get more people involved in this fantastic, living tradition.
“We know that many people hold a special place in their hearts for the traditional Handsworth dance - not least the hundreds of people who come to watch us perform every Boxing Day at Woodhouse and Handsworth Church. As a traditional dance this will be preserved as all-male, but the rest of the club’s dances will be open to everyone - and we hope that eventually female members will feel confident enough to write new, all-female dances to add to the tradition - or even set up their own team if that’s what they wish to do.”
Handsworth is one of the few truly traditional folk teams in the country, with a history stretching back at least 130 years. This unbroken heritage is unusual in folk dance as many dancers were killed during the wars and their teams folded. As most Handsworth dancers worked in either the local mines or steelworks their occupations were reserved and they were not conscripted.
Practices take place on Wednesday nights at the Burton Road Foundation, Hillsborough, 8-10pm. For more information, email or message the team on Facebook or Twitter.


On Boxing Day 2013 the team decided to collect for Amy's House, a local charity.
The amount collected was £380.28. Thanks to all those who donated.

Cecil Sharp visited Handsworth to see the Sword dance in 1913 on a very snowy day. On the 14th January 2013 exactly 100 years later the weather was much the same. To celebrate his visit some of the team danced in the same room at the New Crown Inn where Cecil Sharp saw the dance and took notes 100 years before.

In the New Crown Inn, Handsworth


St. Joseph's School, Handsworth
In March 2012 the team danced at all four primary schools in Handsworth.


November 2011 Les Seaman was awarded the EFDSS Gold Badge. For over 50 years of service to folk dancing.


For the 3rd year Handsworth Sword Dancers will be collecting money for Amy's House.
Amy's House is a local charity which gives special needs children the chance to play, laugh and learn with their siblings. Plus giving some much needed respite for their parents and carers.