Sword Dances on Korčula – A Tradition Not to Miss

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June 5, 2018 – The traditional sword-dancing season on Korčula has begun – a fascinating tradition. 

Almost every town on Korčula has a folklore group or knights’ society that performs traditional knight sword dances. Korčula has the well-known Moreška, which we have already written about, Žrnovo has Moštra, while Vela Luka and some other towns on the island have Kumpanija. This dancing tradition in Vela Luka is mentioned in documents from 1846, while the dance kumpanija originates from the 17th century. After 1926 this sword dance wasn’t performed for years and then it was revitalized in 2001. The folk group of the same name, Kumpanija, is sharing the heritage of traditional Vela Luka dances like: Kumpanija or Ples od Boja and some other dances like Mafrina, Četiri pasa, Tanac, Pritilica, Šega-šega.

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Kumpanija is an old knight sword game which comes from organised local army who defended the island from different invaders. Kumpanija is a sword dance where actual swordplay is secondary, and the focus of the dance is on the connection of the dancers who each hold the tip of the sword from the dancer in front or behind. Dancers like this form a kind of chain in which they display different dance figures and moves. Some of the moves are characteristic for other similar dances in Europe while some are specific for this area.

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This dance is performed only on Korčula island for the day of the town or a holiday. The main dance in Vela Luka is happening every year on St. Joseph on March 19th who is patron saint of Vela Luka town. In Blato on Korčula this dance is preserved by local knights society Kumpanjija. The dance is performed during summer and the main performance is on the day of Blato on April 28. The dance is accompanied with the drum and bagpipes and dancers follow the leader performing different combinations. The dance ends with sword duels. The society also keeps the local heritages like costumes, music instruments, songs, dances and recipes. Other towns on Korčula island also have Kumpanija dance – Smokvica, Čara, Pupnat.

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The dance is also performed on annual Sword Dance Festival which is a summer-long festival. On the festival one can see dances with 400-year-long heritage like moreška, kumpanija and moštra. Participants of the festival are Moreška KUD Korčula and HGD Sv Cecilija, from Korčula with Moreška dance, KPD Bratska slogan from Žrnovo with Moštra dance, VU Kumpanija from Pupnat, VU Kumpanija from Čara, VU Kumpanija from Smokvica, VU Kumpanjija from Blato, HD Kumpanija from Vela Luka. This popular traditional dance festival featured throughout the years Sallyport Sword Dancers from England, Boka Mariners from Montenegro and Croatian Folklore Ensemble from New Zealand with Maori Kapa Haka group.


The festival this year starts on June 15 so try to make it to Korčula to see it. To see whats happening in Korčula, check here.

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Source: TB Vela Luka, Vela Luka, Mačevni plesovi, Mačevni plesovi – Kumpanjija, Visit Korčula – Sword Dance Festival, Mačevni plesovi – Kumpanjija, TB Blato




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