We’re a group of people who get together to have fun performing a unique tradition – Yorkshire longsword dancing.
There’s evidence of the Handsworth Sword Dancers as far back as the 1880s, but the Handsworth Sword Dance itself is likely to be much older. We are proud to be the custodians of this unique cultural tradition, but also to compose and perform innovative new longsword dances that reflect the style and spirit of our original dance.
We’re part of Sheffield’s thriving folk scene. We ‘dance out’ as regularly as possible; at folk festivals and events around the country and overseas; with other local teams at local pubs; and even in the bars and clubs of Sheffield’s liveliest student areas – taking longsword to new audiences.
We welcome both male and female dancers and our repertoire features dances for all physical abilities. Our weekly practices are relaxed and open to anyone to come and have a go at sword dancing – whether they want to join the team formally or not. We also run workshops for groups by request.
Contact us to find out more about coming along to a practice or booking us for an event.
Longsword is a traditional form of dance peculiar to a number of villages throughout Yorkshire, from Redcar in the north to Sheffield in the south. Over the years each village developed its own style, music and costume. It is one of two types of sword dance native to the north of England, the other being rapper dancing from Northumberland.
Today five or six dance teams, including Handsworth, still maintain an unbroken tradition of their village dance. Dancers use rigid steel swords around one metre in length. Some dances are performed in a slow militaristic style (as danced in Grenoside on the other side of Sheffield) or at a run, like the Handsworth dance. The dances were traditionally performed in mid-winter and at Easter.
Longsword dancing has become part of the broader morris dance scene, but the two traditions evolved in separate parts of the country. Longsword dancing can often be seen represented at the biggest folk festivals in the country alongside dance traditions such as Cotswold, Border and North West morris, rapper sword dancing and clog dance.