The Sword Dance is said to have originated from soldiers taking their opponents sword after battle and crossing it on the ground with their own sword, symbolising the sign of the cross, and dancing over them in celebration of their victory.
For centuries the dance was used to relieve tension before battle, however, superstition stated that if the swords were touched whilst dancing over them then it was predicted that they would face defeat during the battle.
Even though most of us hate dancing the Swords, the dance demonstrates a dancers great strength, stamina and agility. It is performed all over the world at competitions, Tattoos and other events with such awe from the audience.
We may be the only sport in the world that can give a small child a sword and nobody panics. That is except for their parents who are usually too nervous to watch them dance the Swords.
A few tips to think about when practising the swords to give it the appearance of strength and control like the soldiers had many years ago:
1. The timing or counting the Pas de Basque movement – 1& 2, 3& 4 – must be kept in your mind throughout your entire performance.
2. Remember to spring to the side or 2nd Position. Do not drop into this position when using the extension – carry the body over.
3. Make sure the front foot is in 3rd or 5th on the half point – that the foot is fully erect with the knee well turned out.
4. Always transfer the weight fully onto 3rd or 5th half point as the rear beat is executed. If you work hard on this your Pas de Basque will have a pleasing lift and lilt to it, which brightens up your dance.
5. Be careful to end your beat closely in 3rd rear ball position. A good way to learn this is to count 1& A2 – the A count is your transference of weight.