Sword dance

From Academic Kids

Although sometimes treated as a form of morris dance, sword dancers are proud of their own tradition and often wish to be treated as a traditional dance category in its own right.

General sword dances forms include:

  • solo dancers around swords – such as the traditional Scottish sword dances. This general form also encompasses non-sword dances such as the bacca pipes jig in Cotswold morris dance,
  • mock battle dances, including many stick dances from non-sword traditions, and such common continental dances as Buffins or Matachin
  • hilt-and-point sword dances – where the dancers are linked together by their swords in a chain. These form the basis for rapper sword and long sword forms,

Hilt-and-point sword dances traditional to England include rapper sword and long sword, although both of these are now also performed by revival teams outside their traditional areas, including teams in most of the English-speaking world.

There are related hilt-and-point sword dances that are, or were, performed all over Europe. These are particularly concentrated in an area corresponding to the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire at around 1400-1500, and many of these traditional dances are still performed in Germany, Austria and the Flanders. Linked sword dances were also found all over the Iberian Peninsula, and are still widely performed in the Basque Country. An overview of these can be found on the Related Traditions page of the Rapper Online website.

Mock battle sword dances are found worldwide, varying from the Saltatio Armatum of the ancient Romans, through Turkish, Persian and Middle Eastern traditions to Japanese mock battle dances. Some European sword dances, such as the dance from the island of Korcula in Croatia, include both hilt-and-point and mock battle sequences.

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Newcastle Kingsmen (England)
Handsworth Sword Dancers (England)
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Handsworth Sword Dancers (England)
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St Martin in Sulmtal (Austria)
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Kemen Dantza Taldea (Basque Country)
St Martin in Sulmtal (Austria)
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St Martin in Sulmtal (Austria)
Flamborough Sword Dancers (England)
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Flamborough Sword Dancers (England)
Markina Sword Dancers (Basque Country)
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Markina Sword Dancers (Basque Country)

English sword dancing has also been brought to the New World, initially as part of the "morris revivial" of the 1970s and 1980s. Teams are now extant in most major metropolitan areas in North America. The New York Sword Ale is an annual gathering over Presidents Day weekend that brings together over a dozen sword teams form the east coast and around the world.


External Links (information)

External links (dance groups)

  • RIch Holmes site (http://www.morrisdancing.org/) includes links to many English and English-style sword teams.

de:Schwerttanz

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