Stephen D. Corrsin's Sword Dance History Research Site
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Page 2

In the continuing spirit of experimentation, this is page 2, which includes articles I've written: both short ones (section I), and longer and more ponderous ones, published original in Folklore.


"Rolf Gardiner and North Skelton." Published in Rattle Up, My Boys, in 2010.  Gardiner's daughter gave me permission to quote from his unpublished letters which he'd written to one of his first and closest friends, Arthur Heffer (of the Cambridge bookstore family), who died of his World War I injuries in 1931. (Gardiner, by the way, was the father of the famous conductor John Eliot Gardiner.)

This is in memory of Trevor Stone, a great teacher of and ambassador for English longsword dances. I wrote it after his death in 2009, for Rattle Up

This is in memory of Renaat van Craenenbroeck, one of the outstanding figures in the revival of sword dancing. I wrote it for Folklore after his death in 2001.

Kurt Meschke (1902-71) published Schwerttanz und Schwerttanzspiel im germanischen Kulturkreis (Sword Dancing and Sword Dancing Plays in the Germanic Cultural World.) I published this in the American Morris Newsletter. Meschke was a Lutheran dissenter from National Socialist rule, and took his family to Sweden before the war broke out. His son Michael Meschke, who provided material and permission, is a well known puppeteer. Kurt Meschke's book is good solid historical work and and he deserves more credit than he receives. (He is not the Nazi sword dance scholar and collector: that was Richard Wolfram, of whom more later.)

Nazi sword dance manuals

Also from American Morris Newsletter. Nazi folk dance leaders and teachers loved sword dances, which one -- Walter Jaide -- described as "manly play with weapons." Scary and downright ugly stuff. In Hans von der Au's booklet (discussed along with Jaide's) it was proposed that the Nazis' paramilitary forces, the SS and the SA, should perform. In the post-war years, Au was an honored leader in the German folk dance world. Presumably he changed his line.

One of the more interesting and little-known sword dance styles, at least outside of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, is the "Pod sable" (Under the Sword) dance. I've taught a version and have seen videos -- and first saw it in a beer garden in Queens, New York. 

This piece was printed both in
Rattle Up and in the American Morris Newsletter. It was fun, but I was left with more questions than answers: "Hoisting on the lock in America ... in 1935?" You know, maybe it was Richard Chase.


2004 "English Approaches to 'Ritual' Dance Research, 1897-1913: Survivals and Sacrifices."

2008 "'Spectral, Dancing Hosts of War:' German-language Research on Sword Dancing before World War I."

2010 "'One Single Dance Form like the Sword Dance Can Open Up a Whole Lost World:' The Vienna Ritualists and the Study of Sword Dancing and Secret Men's Unions between the World Wars." 

Side comment on these two last pieces, of which I am quite proud: my doctorate, from the University of Michigan, focuses on Russia and Poland (using the primary languages of those countries); when the heck did I become a Germanist? In kind of a fit of absentmindedness, as the saying goes, I expect. Anyway, links to follow.
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