Sword dancers looking sharp for festive crowds in Sheffield

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Performances by Sheffield sword dancers proved a popular draw – attracting crowds to see a slice of festive folklore.

The Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers opened their programme with an appearance in Woodhouse Market Square, followed by a a similar performance outside St Mary’s Church in Handsworth.

Each year the action is different – this year’s attraction was a historic mumming play The Derby Tup, in which a great ram is ceremonially and symbolically slain.

Lead dancer Dave Pitt began a session of Yorkshire carols including Jacob’s Well and the Holmfirth Anthem.

The event then saw a team of eight dancers perform an intricate routine ending with the swords intertwined in a locked position that can be carried by one man.

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 Machan, a member of the group, said: “We always do something a little different each Boxing Day, we like to have some variety.”

However, for anyone who missed the fun the Handsworth Sword Dancers will be out and about tonight, around the pubs of Handsworth performing the Tup once again.

n Sheffield City Morris Men stage their traditional New Year’s dance this week, ahead of their 40th anniversary in 2015.

On Thursday – New Year’s Day – they will perform outside Sheffield Cathedral in the city centre from noon.