Appeal launched for Sword Dance memories

Appeal launched for Sword Dance memories A hunt is being launched for memories of a once popular East Cleveland tradition as part of a major celebration being planned to take place this autumn. Redcar Sword Dancers are looking for people with memories and memorabilia of the many longsword teams that once flourished in the ironstone mining areas of East Cleveland to help stage an exhibition of these ancient traditions at the Kirkleatham Old Hall Museum in October. The exhibition will form part of the Sword Dance Union’s Annual Day of Dance and Tournament, which will be held in the north east for the first time this year. Brian Pearce, the leader of Redcar Sword Dancers, is heading up the hunt. He said: “Any artefacts, photographs, uniforms, video or film clips relating to the teams would be most welcome. “We would especially like to speak to those who performed the dances, or who have personal memories of relatives being members of a team.” Teams could at one time be found in a number of villages including Boosbeck, Lingdale, Loftus, Skelton and North Skelton and performed throughout the country and at international festivals. The Redcar team, who perform the Greatham and the Eston & California longsword dances, are hosting this year’s annual Day of Dance and Tournament at Prior Pursglove College in Guisborough on Saturday 15th October and a large number of teams from around the country are expected to attend. The Tournament has classes for traditional and non-traditional dances and attracts senior and junior sides. All events on the day will be open to the general public. Prior to the Tournament all the teams will be giving displays at various locations in Guisborough. “We are delighted to be invited to bring the tournament and day of dance to a premier location for longsword dancing,” Brian added. “This is a  tradition that is sadly not as strong as it once was in the local area, but is still being maintained by teams throughout the world. Our day of dance gives teams an opportunity to show off their skills and, if they choose, take part in some light hearted competition”. If you are able to provide information, photographs or anything relating to sword dancing from our local area for the exhibition or would like to learn more about the event please contact Brian on 01642 454371.

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