The Dances

Sword dancing was once a common activity in the villages of Northern England.

Although the tradition lives on in various parts of Britain and Europe, it seems to have found its home in three regions of Yorkshire.  Sword dancing is still performed in Sheffield, the Vale of York and the Whitby area of North East Yorkshire.

Spen Valley Longsword has focused on two dances in recent years.

The North Skelton Dance is from a village North of Whitby.  It has five figures and was learned by members of the team at Kathy Mitchell's Longsword workshops at Whitby Folk Festival in the 1970s.  It was described in a booklet published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society in 1971 and also in Ivor Allsop's excellent book Longsword Dances, published in 1996, ISBN 0-9627554-7-8.

The Helmsley Dance, from the Vale of York, was researched by Trevor Stone, a former dancer with Spen Valley Longsword.  Under Trevor's guidance the team developed the dance into their main display performance.  Details can once again be found in Ivor Allsop's book.

 

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Goathland Plough Stots dancing at the Moor & Coast Festival in Whitby in 2005.  Their dance has many similarities with North Skelton.
Click on the Plough Stots' Sword Lock to view their site.
Tunes North Skelton Fig. 1 North Skelton Fig. 2 North Skelton Fig. 3 North Skelton Fig. 4 North Skelton Fig. 5 Helmsley