The Flagcrackers of Craven in action

A Yorkshire morris dancing team celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this year with a series of colourful celebrations.

The Flagcrackers of Craven is marking the anniversary throughout 2013, but central to the festivities will be a Day of Dance in Skipton on 15 June, with more than a dozen visiting teams from across the country coming to join the Flagcrackers in presenting a marathon tour of dance displays.

Over the years the Flagcrackers have danced alongside hundreds of other sides at festivals all over the UK and abroad.  Now the team will be inviting some of their favourites along to share their birthday celebrations and to showcase their skills at this very special event.

Featuring every kind of morris dance traditional style; Cotswold, Longsword, Rapper, Garland, Border, Northwest and even some belly dancers, the teams will perform around Skipton town centre throughout the day, with a massed gathering at the canal basin at about 3pm.

Throughout the year the Flagcrackers plan to put on displays of their own colourful, stick clashing Border morris dance at various iconic Yorkshire locations in Craven, including Ribblehead and  the top of Malham Cove.  The team is interested to receive invitations from organisers in the area that would like to them to dance at particularly interesting venues this year.

Members of the Flagcrackers have come and gone over their twenty-five years but the side has remained strong and welcoming to old and new members and a celebratory party is planned for the autumn.

The Flagcrackers of Craven’s ethos is to retain traditional morris dances and evolve new ones, with a generous dash of entertainment value for spectators. The lively show they put on for their audiences at home and abroad throughout the summer months may look relaxed and spontaneous, but it is actually thoroughly rehearsed.

The team has a repertoire of many dances, of which in any given year around twelve are constantly practised and danced out.  Within each dance the six or eight positions all feature different moves and the quiet winter months are used for dancers to learn familiar dances from new positions and to practise stepping and sticking techniques.  New dances are learned and some developed creatively from scratch at workshops.

Over the years the team has been based at several local practice venues around Skipton, from The Albion  to Carleton Working Men’s Club, then King Henry (now Omar Khan’s) and has been meeting at the Farnhill Institute since 1999 on Wednesday nights from 8pm to 10pm.  Anyone interested in joining the team is welcome to go along to find out more.

For information on the twenty-fifth birthday celebrations or booking The Flagcrackers of Craven to entertain at an event, contact the Squire of the team, Nigel Foster on 01535 631282.

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