Dancing with swords
Hi I'm Michelle. I've been away from the Learning English team for a while but I'm glad to be back and am excited to be writing for the staff blog!
I hope everyone enjoyed a lovely festive period. Being back at work can be a bit of a shock, but at least I was lucky enough to have a lovely long break over Christmas, which I spent with my family in Newcastle.
One of my favourite things about going 'back home' for Christmas is getting to see the group of 'sword dancers' who, every year, jig their way around all the pubs in the village where my mum and dad live. It's a popular annual event and brings out all the locals to watch the spectacle.
The 'Northumbrian rapper sword dance' is a traditional folk dance with its roots in the north east of England. It's a lot of fun to watch as it involves a troupe of dancers prancing around in a circle and clashing swords!
It's quite an intricate dance and a lot more elegant than it sounds. To the untrained eye, it looks a bit like morris dancing, but with swords instead of bells and sticks.
I wasn't able to get hold of any sword dancing photos, but here's a picture of morris dancers - another type of traditional dancing in England.
The Northumbrian rapper sword dance is a tradition that apparently started in the north east of England as a recreational activity in mining villages. Work conditions were very tough for miners so they threw themselves into hobbies such as dancing and singing.
I think it's lovely that there are still some groups today which take sword dancing seriously - even if they do enjoy one or two beers in the pubs they perform in along the way!
Northumberland is quite a rural part of England and that might help the area to keep its folk traditions alive. As well as the sword dance, we've got clog dancing, folk singing, and once when I was younger I even tried to learn the 'folk cello' - although I wasn't very good!
Historic Bamburgh Catle in Northumberland.
I'd love to hear about any interesting folk traditions where you live. Maybe you've tried your hand at folk singing or dancing yourself? Do people in your area make an effort to keep these kinds of traditions 'alive'?
Hoping to hear back from you soon.
Jig - dancing around in a quick, lively manner
Prancing - jumping around or moving in a lively way
Intricate - detailed
To the untrained eye - to people who don't know a lot about the particular subject
Morris dancing - a form of English folk dancing
Threw themselves into - getting wholeheartedly involved