Moreska Sword Dance

Moreska Sword Dance

July 29; July-August
The Moreska Sword Dance is a ritual dance of medieval knights that has been performed every July 29 for centuries. The dance takes place in Korcula, the main town of the island of Korcula off the coast of the former Yugoslavia (now within Croatia), in honor of the town's patron saint, Theodore. The dance-cum-pageant, with many clashes of steel, symbolizes the battle against the Turks when Korcula was under the control of the kings of Bosnia in the late 14th century.
A spirited and athletic dance, it also has been performed in other parts of Europe. There is historical evidence, for example, that the Moreska, whose name is derived from the Spanish word for "Moorish," was danced in 1156 in Lerida, Spain, to portray the expulsion of the Moors from Aragon. Originally performed only on July 29, it is now presented within the six-week Festival of Sword Dances running through July and August, though the grandest performance is still on the 29th. Korcula has hosted the festival since 1997 to celebrate and preserve the 400-year-old tradition of sword dancing.
From the 15th century, Korcula was under the control, successively, of Venice, Austria, France, Britain, again Austria, and Italy, until being ceded to Yugoslavia after World War I. It was under Italian occupation in World War II and liberated by Yugoslavian partisans in 1944-45. Marco Polo is supposed to have been born on Korcula.
See also Moors and Christians Fiesta
CONTACTS:
Korcula Tourist Office
Grad bb
Korcula, 20260 Croatia
385-20 710-610; fax: 385-20-710-611
www.korcula.net
SOURCES:
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 390
References in periodicals archive ?
The most het-up it gets is when the unique Moreska sword dance is performed near the main gate of the old city on summer Thursdays.
Count the digits as the locals dice with death in their ancient Moreska sword dance, performed a couple of times a week during summer near the southern gate.