City festival ready to showcase best of English traditional folk dance

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THE biggest toe-tapping spectacular of English traditional dance seen in this country this century will take to the streets of Sheffield on Saturday, May 14.

More than 60 bell-jangling, stick-clashing dance sides from across Britain, made up of a colourful army of 1,000 dancers, are set to take part in a free show in the city centre.

There will massed morris dance displays, showcase performances by the cream of English folk art, clog dancing, garland dancing, longsword and rapper sword dance displays, mumming plays, street theatre and molly dancing.

The Joint Morris Organisation Sheffield National Morris Spectacular will be hosted by the Morris Ring, and will be made up of sides from the men’s Morris Ring and mixed Morris Federation and the Open Morris, who will be keeping alive dances and traditions spanning the centuries.

The 10am opening ceremonies in Tudor Square and Cathedral Square will be performed by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Coun Alan Law, and the Mayor of Amber Valley, Coun Alan Cox.

Dance displays will be staged at 17 city centre venues throughout the day, with a rolling mass display of dancing in Tudor Square.

Another highlight will be a dance workshop held at Sheffield Cathedral, where it is hoped local celebrities will be given a crash course in morris dancing ready to entertain the crowds.

The day is set to end with an evening ceilidh and concert at Sheffield Cathedral.

Event organiser Peter Halfpenny, squire of the Morris Ring and a member of the Morrismen of Harthill, near Sheffield, said: “The whole idea of the day is to showcase the best of traditional English folk dance which is flourishing in this country and to take it onto the streets so people can see what efforts are being made to keep these wonderful old traditions alive.

“Our aim is to provide a day long colourful spectacular of dance and street entertainment which the whole family can enjoy.”