M@HoT to Host the UK’s First Youth Longsword Day of Dance in Barnard Castle

The Music at the Heart of Teesdale project (M@HoT) is hosting a Youth Longsword ‘Day of Dance’ in Barnard Castle over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. The event will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, 5th May 2018, and has been planned to add a ‘youth element’ to the biennial Day of Dance organised by Barnard Castle’s Black Sheep Border Morris side for adult traditional dance teams that will be taking place on the same day.

Historic Longsword Dance performance by Gainford primary school pupils on the village green in July 2017
(Photo credit: Gordon Grieve)

“Thank to our Arts Council funding, we have been able to deliver our popular and successful Longsword Dance programme to several primary schools in Teesdale over the past year,” said M@HoT’s Longsword Dance tutor Patrick Langdon. “We have also run our now well-established series of workshops for every child who enters Year 7 at Teesdale School, and held the 4th Interhouse Longsword Dance competition in the school in the run up to Christmas.”

Tutor Patrick Langdon supervising the ‘locksmiths’ at Teesdale School’s Year 7s workshop in November
(Photo credit: Neil Diment)

“The culmination of all this collective work in local schools will be a Youth Longsword Day of Dance, so every school we have worked with this year has been invited to send a team,” added Patrick. “Primary schools from Butterknowle, Bowes and Green Lane in Barnard Castle will each be sending a team, and there will be a side from Teesdale School as well. In addition, to help make it a really great event we sent out invitations all those in the region who run a youth side – or who might be able get one up especially for this event – to come and join in the fun, so there may well be one or two surprise entrants on the day. We hope everyone who comes to dance or to watch us will enjoy a great day out in our historic market town!”

Bowes Hutchinson primary school pupils performing for their parents in the school playground, October 2017
(Photo credit: Neil Diment)

“This is the first time such an event has been held by anyone in the UK, as far as we know,” said organiser and M@HoT project co-ordinator, Neil Diment. “We were very keen that as many youth Longsword sides join us on the day as possible,” he added. “We did not want this to be a competition under strict Sword Dance Union rules! We want everyone to have some fun. Every team participating will receive a signed certificate and every dance team member a specially designed badge for the event, so no one will go home disappointed we hope. We are delighted that our Town Mayor, Councillor Sandra Moorhouse, has given her whole-hearted and very enthusiastic support to this event, and offered to present the teams with their certificates and badges.”

Children at Green Lane primary school in Barnard Castle enjoyed learning an old Teesdale tradition, June 2017
(Photo by Green Lane Primary School)

Cllr Moorhouse said, “As Town Mayor I am delighted that Barnard Castle has been chosen to host this event, the first in the country.  I’m so looking forward to seeing so many enthusiastic young people engaged in reviving the traditional dance forms of Teesdale and I hope there will be a huge crowd to watch and support them. M@HoT have had a very successful year of awards, could this be the icing on the cake?”  

The dancing will start at the Bowes Museum from 1.30pm and the programme for the rest of the afternoon will be as follows:

2-3pm DANCE! The youth longsword teams take turns dancing outside the Bowes Museum, interspersing their performances with the adult traditional dance teams.

3pm Youth teams make their way into the town centre. Refreshments for the teams available, courtesy the Town Mayor, in Woodleigh on Scar Top

3.15-3.45 DANCE! Youth Longsword Dance performances on Scar Top, directly opposite the entrance to the castle itself

4pm Short walk to The Witham

4.15-4.45pm DANCE! Youth Longsword Dance performances at The Witham

4.30pm Tea served for participating teams and accompanying adults

5pm Presentation of certificates and badges by Cllr Sandra Moorhouse, Barnard Castle’s Town Mayor

5.30pm Depart