Traditional dance teachers look to attract new blood

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A TRADITION stretching back to the 19th century, and perhaps further, the Flamborough Sword Dance is a Boxing Day event the whole village can witness.

The annual display from the Longsword dancers begins at the White Horse pub in Bempton, and moves around Flamborough village, stopping to perform the traditional dance outside each of the village pubs.

The dance involves a group of eight local men, most of whom learn the dance while at the village school as youngsters. They carry wooden swords, approximately a yard long, always in the left hand.

They wear an outfit of a fisherman’s gansey jumper, white trousers, known as ‘ducks’ and flat caps.

The dance is a living and valuable part of the village heritage in Flamborough, and the group have also performed the dance in Antwerp, Belgium as part of an international sword dance event.

The junior team has also represented the village at the Millenium Dome (now the O2 Arena) in London.

Junior teams from the local school have helped to keep the tradition alive.

A school team performed in the years leading up to, and during the second World War as confirmed by an entry in the school’s log book for 21st July 1934.

Within the past 50 years or so various teams enjoyed the active support of a number of women - all teachers who have encouraged pupils to understand, enjoy and perform the dance.

Carol Coultas currently teaches junior teams at the local school and her own grandfather danced in a team in early 1900’s.

Richard Traves was born and brought up in Flamborough and has been a dancer for more than 50 years. Richard was involved with the revival of the men’s team in 1977 and has organised the team ever since.

Between them Mrs Coultas and Mr Traves are setting up dance classes at Flamborough School, to begin after the half-term holiday this month.

Mrs Coultas said: “Most children who are born in the village will have a connection with a family member who has been part of the dance.

“Our numbers have dwindled over the years, so it is especially important for us to keep the interest going with the youngsters.

“We will be looking at mid-week classes after school for anyone who wants to join in.

“It’s important to keep the tradition of the dance alive and well and hopefully the teaching classes will be well attended by local youngsters.”