Traditional Christmas sword dance set to return to Hartlepool village after Covid cancellation last year

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Dancers will once again cross swords when a revival of a unique folk dance returns to Greatham this Christmas.

The Greatham Sword Dance performed annually by the Redcar Sword Dancers will be staged live in the village again on Boxing Day.

The pandemic meant the dance had to be held virtually last year for the first time in 53 years.

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Greatham Sword Dance is a play and dance with folk songs unique to Greatham and is believed to date back to the first quarter of the 19th Century.

The Greatham village sword dance. Picture by FRANK REIDThe Greatham village sword dance. Picture by FRANK REID
The Greatham village sword dance. Picture by FRANK REID

It has been a Christmas tradition in the village since the Redcar Sword Dancers, who perform with long swords and wear distinctive red jackets, revived it in the late 1960s.

The performance takes place outside the gates to the Hospital of God, in Front Street, at noon and lasts for about 30 minutes.

Brian Pearce, of the Redcar Sword Dancers, said: “We’re looking forward to getting back and doing it again.

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"This will be the first time that we have performed since February of 2020.”

The troupe started performing it in the village in 1967 after researching historic records and articles of the dance.

With verse and dance to an accordion, the dance comprises of a short a play where one of the dancers loses his head.

He is brought back to life by a travelling ‘quack’ doctor and one of his remedies.

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The dance is free to watch but spectators are encouraged to show their appreciation at the end by throwing coins.

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