Display Dance Co-ordinators Malcolm Major and Charlotte Dover have put together an exciting and varied programme of display dance for 2023, welcoming some exceptional dance teams to the fold.
Confirmed so far are Aurora Appalachian, Bampton Traditional Morris Dancers, Berkshire Bedlam, Chiltern Hundreds Clog Morris, Chinewrde Morris, Compass Roses (US/Canada), Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers, JD & Folk, Luascadh Irish Dancers, Northgate Rapper, Pecsaetan Morris, The Shropshire Bedlams and Martha Rhoden’s Tuppenny Dish and Tower Ravens Rapper. They can be seen throughout the week in a range of Dance Spectaculars in Connaught Gardens and the Blackmore Gardens Marquee, and they will also be performing around town and on the Esplanade.
And for those who’d like to try out the dances for themselves there will be a range of dance workshops every morning of the festival. From Appalachian to Irish Step (via Ottawa Valley), Cotswold, Border, Rapper & Longsword – all will be welcome at the workshops, which as usual will cater for a wide range of experience and ability.
In addition, there will be a welcome return for the John Gasson Memorial Jig Competition to look forward to on Sunday 6th August, bringing the usual competitive spirit to the Festival with high standard and energetic jigs.
The ever-popular Sidmouth Horse Trials are also on Sun 6th August – bring your hobby horses and beasts of disguise and compete for the prestigious trophy.
The programme of talks at the Festival includes Michael Heaney, tracing the history of morris dancing in England in his new book The Ancient English Morris Dance, and the history of Handsworth Longsword.
Look out for Morris Wednesday on 9th August with Chinewrde Morris – the theme is Queens & Kings – get your glad rags out!
There are three dance processions during the festival – Saturday & Thursday afternoons from the seafront to Blackmore Gardens, and the Torchlight Procession at 10pm on Friday 11 August, marking the end of the Festival.