Sheffield sword dancers group appeals for women to join

A Sheffield sword dancing collective is to allow women to join their ranks - a move believed to be a first for the group.

Wednesday, 27th December 2017, 2:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th December 2017, 2:55 pm
Team veteran Les Seaman holding the 'lock' following the performance.

Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers have wowed crowds with their dazzling displays for several decades.

Membership has traditionally been dominated by men, but the group has now taken the unusual step of inviting women to join from next year.

The butcher has slain the Derby Tup.

And if any new members need any inspiration to join, they need to look no further than the group's latest performance.

Scores of people congregated at Woodhouse Market Square and later St Mary's Church in Handsworth as they put on their annual Boxing Day extravaganza.

The dancers performed a historic mumming play - a traditional folk show performed by troupes of amateur actors known as mummers.

The crowds were treated to a performance of the Derby Tup, in which a great ram is ceremonially and symbolically slain by a butcher and made into useful and desirable items for people to use.

One of the intricate dance routines.

The historic tale has been performed by the group for several decades and they followed their latest show with carol singing and a demonstration of sword dancing.

This saw a team of eight dancers dressed in military-style uniforms perform an intricate routine ending with the swords intertwined in a locked position.

Although the troop performs throughout the year at a number of heritage events, it is the Boxing Day shows that are the highlight of the calendar.

Peter Wolstenholme, of the group, said the performance "delighted the large crowds."

Les Seaman holding the lock leads the team off. Les joined the Handsworth Sword in 1957 and at 80 years of age is still an energetic dancer.

The dancers feature males ranging in ages from under 18 right up to members in their 80s.

Les Seaman is one of their oldest members at age 80, having joined the group in 1957, and took part in the fun again this year.

For more information about joining the group visit www.handsworthsworddancers.org.uk

Handsworth Sword Dancers team.
Handsworth Sword Dancers team.
One of the dance routines.
The butcher has slain the Derby Tup.
One of the intricate dance routines.
Les Seaman holding the lock leads the team off. Les joined the Handsworth Sword in 1957 and at 80 years of age is still an energetic dancer.
Handsworth Sword Dancers team.
Handsworth Sword Dancers team.
One of the dance routines.