The opening ceremony on June 16, 2017 in Korčula town presents sword dance groups from the entire island:
HGD „Sveta Cecilija“ from the town of Korčula with Moreška sword dance;
KPD „Bratska sloga“, from Žrnova with Moštra;
VU „Kumpanjija“ from Pupnat;
VU „Kumpanija“ from Čara ;
VU „Kumpanija“ from Smokvica;
VU „Kumpanjija“ from Blato;
HD „Kumpanija“ from Vela Luka;
and the guest group from England, the Sallyport Sword Dancers.
The Sallyport Sword Dancers will perform in Korčula town again
on June 17 from 7 pm and on June 18 in Vela Luka in the evening.
The Festival Sword Dance Festival programme includes all Moreška sword dance performances in Korčula performed by „HGD Sv. Cecilija“ and „Moreška“- KUD Korčula, as well as Kumpanija single chain dance performances in the island places.
Another feature this year is an exhibit focusing on the 90th anniversary of the “Kumpanjija from Blato“ July 1-12 in the town of Blato and repeated in the Korčula Town Museum through all of August. Korčula’s program of the summer long Sword Dance Festival June 16 – September.
The Korčula Sword Dance Festival was organized annually 1997-2004. After a pause of a decade, the Festival was revived by Dr. Goran Oreb with the Korčula Tourist Board to include all eight sword dance groups on the island. The occasion in 2014 was initiated for a symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology and .
Dance researchers from many countries were able to have visual and comparative contact with all sword dance groups of Korčula as well as with a guest dance group from eastern Spain, Bastonets d’Algemesi a UNESCO-recognized group for their historical continuity dances with wooden sticks (in place of swords) and small round metal shields.
Korčula island is a unique treasure chest with two types of sword dance groups since at least the 17th century: village Kumpanjija members dance in a linked unified group by holding each other’s single long sword, while the municipal Moreška members clash their two swords in a mock battle. Moreška and Kumpanija are listed by the Ministry of Culture in the Republic of Croatia to be safe-guarded as intangible cultural heritage.
In 2014 the whole island also celebrated an 800-year anniversary (1214-2014) of the oldest known legal charter (Statut) in Europe. The oldest written evidence of sword groups on Korčula are dated in the 17th century: the Kumpanjija in 1620 in the village of Žrnovo, and a journal entry in 1666 of moreškanti in Korčula town.
In the Korčula Sword Dance Festival of 2016 the Boka Mariners from Kotor, Montenegro were the featured international guests link na . Performing in 2015 from Auckland, New Zealand, were the Croatian Folklore Ensemble “Kralj Tomislav” ( link na with a Maori Kapa Haka group, “Te Roopu O Aotearoa”, and Klapa singers “Samoana”.
In 2014, the Korčula Town Museum organized the first exhibition of a village Kumpanjija during the time period of the Symposium. The exhibition was so successful in exposing the village form of a sword dance to the townspeople of Korčula, as well as to summer tourism, that two more kumpanjija exhibitions were organized in the following years, Čara’s Kumpanjija (in 2015), and Žrnovo’s kumpanjija, the Moštra (in 2016). Three more Kumpanjija exhibitions are planned by the Korčula Town Museum in cooperation with Blato (2017), Smokvica (2018), and Vela Luka (2019).
With a primary goal to preserve the traditional and historical heritage of the island of Korčula, 20 years ago (1997), the Tourist Board of Korčula, under the leadership of Mihajlo Grgić, President of the Tourist Board of Korcula, with Stanka Kraljević, Director of the tourist office, initiated the Korčula Sword Dance Festival. The artistic management of the Festival was handled by Dr. Goran Oreb, who with his theatrical choreographic knowledge and island dance experiences created the first scenario. The Festival continued annually in this spectacle form until 2004.
In the year 2014 the ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music) Study Group of Ethnochoreology organized its 28th symposium on Korčula. The Tourist Board of Korčula with Vinko Kapelina, President of the Tourist Board of Korčula and Hana Turudić, Director of the tourist office, in collaboration with Dr. Goran Oreb, revived the Korčula Festival of Sword Dance after a pause of ten-years.