Claro dancing at Reeth on the Richmondshire Ring Meeting
Claro Sword & Morris are based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
Currently we mainly perform Longsword Dances although as our name implies our origins include Cotswold Morris Dances as well. A number of our members also dance with Great Yorkshire Morris Men (GYMM) whose repertoire includes Morris as well as Rapper and a smidgin of Longsword. As Claro Sword and Morris Men we are members of the Morris Ring, a National Association of Morris and Sword Dance clubs. We perform traditional Longsword Dances from Yorkshire as well as a number of new longsword dances in the traditional style.
Over the 40 or so years since our formation, our performances have taken us to many towns and villages in England as well as various destinations abroad. We have danced in Vannes in Brittany, Bruges in Belgium, and three times in Harrogate's twin town of Luchon in the French Pyrenees.
During the year we put on a number of dance displays, which may be evening dance outs at local pubs, day tours with guest sides or organised events. We have regular Thursday evening practices at Pannal Scout Hut from around 8.00pm. If you would like to have a go yourself why not come along and give it a try? Just contact the Squire or Bagman and we will be delighted to welcome you (no experience necessary!)
The term is often used to describe a number of traditional English dance forms, including the classic handkerchief and stick dances of the Cotswold villages, Midlands and Welsh Borders, North-West Morris from Lancashire, normally performed wearing iron-shod clogs, and rapper and longsword dances from Yorkshire and the North-East.
The origins of the Morris are obscure; references are often made to fertility rituals associated with the agricultural year, but this is merely speculation. The earliest documentary evidence largely stems from churchwardens' accounts in the early 16th. century which suggests that the Morris was embraced by the church as part of village life at that time.
Today's dancers perform for a variety of reasons: to continue a traditional folk heritage; for the fellowship it brings; for the sheer pleasure of dancing; because Morris has its own particular"Magic" which captivates the imagination as it did for Cecil Sharp, a professional musician and teacher who devoted the last 20 years of his life to the collection of our traditional dances and songs. Sharp collected over 150 dances from 1899, when he first saw Headington Quarry Morris Men in Oxfordshire, until his death in 1924 and thus preserved many of our dances and traditions.
As Sharp commented: "We have restored to our own people a rightful inheritance, a means and method of self-expression in movement, native and sincere, such as is offered by no other form of dancing known to us."