Traditional English Sword Dancing

    Saturday and Sunday, February 14th and 15th

    Half-MoonSwordTHIRTIETH ANNUAL NEW YORK SWORD DANCE FESTIVAL TO BE HELD FEB. 14-15 IN NEW YORK CITY  The 30th Annual New York Sword Dance Festival will be held in New York City, on Feb. 14–15, 2015.  The event will feature 12 teams, as the performing groups are known, in an exciting weekend of performances in public spaces in various locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The festival, which Half Moon first organized in 1985, was the first such event in North America to focus on English-style sword dancing.  This year a team from England will take part in the event.

    “When we held our first Sword Dance Festival back in 1985, there were no other teams in North America that only did sword dancing,” says Deirdre Bialo-Padin, a founding member of the group.  “Now there are groups all over the U.S. and some in Canada.  We feel that the festival played a part in expanding the popularity of the dancing. Some people even formed groups just so they could come to the festival.”

    Sword dancing is a winter celebration practiced in the farming and coal-mining regions of northern England, where the annual visit of the local sword dancers to the village homes was thought to guarantee good luck for the year.  The Festival will feature both mystical, stately longsword and vigorous rapper sword dancing, with live music on fiddle, accordion, and other instruments.  In both types of sword dance, the dancers are linked in a ring by the “swords” they hold in their hands while they work as a team to weave intricate figures and patterns without breaking the circle.  The dances are thought to have roots in ancient rituals, traces of which can still be seen in these present-day displays of skill.  Performances will also include English-style step dancing, Molly dancing, and related English folk traditions.

    This year’s festival will feature the “home team,” Half Moon Sword, and their many guests for a weekend of exciting and crowdpleasing entertainment.  One of the guest teams, Four Corners Rapper, comes from England, where rapper sword dancing originated.

    Performances will be held in various libraries, museums, churches, and other public spaces in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The festival will conclude with a grand finale in the auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum of Art on Sunday the 15th. All performances are free, although there is a suggested donation to enter the Brooklyn Museum.


    Saturday, February 14th, 2015 — Brooklyn and Manhattan

    1:00 p.m. Chatham Square Library
    33 East Broadway (near Catherine Street)

    1:00 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.
    Jefferson Market Public Library
    425 6th Avenue @ 10th Street

    1:30 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.
    115th Street Library
    203 West 115th Street @ 7th Avenue, Manhattan

    1:30 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.
    Dana Discovery Center
    110th Street (between Fifth Avenue & Lenox Avenue) in Central Park, Manhattan

    3:00 p.m.
    Park Slope Library
    431 6th Avenue @ 9th Street, Brooklyn

    Sunday, February 15th, 2015 — Brooklyn

    12:30 p.m.
    Brooklyn Historical Society
    128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn

    12:30 p.m.
    Brookyln Conservatory of Music
    58 7th Avenue, Brooklyn

    12:30 p.m.
    St. John’s Episcopal Church
    139 St. Johns Place, between 6th & 7th Avenues, Brooklyn

    1:00 p.m.
    Old First Reform Church
    729 Carroll Street, Brooklyn

    2:30 p.m.
    Brooklyn Museum (auditorium)
    200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn