The Rapper Sword Dance is a traditional dance from the coal mining areas of the north east of England and has nothing to do with Rap music or dancing with traditional Swords.
A Rapper Sword is in fact a short length of sprung steel with a handle at either end, not much use for fighting with but impressive when danced with.
The dance is often performed by five men (the term men used very loosely) connected by the Rapper Swords and is danced to fast Jig music.
Our aim is to impress any audience with intricate, fast and slightly dangerous or seemingly impossible figures, without letting go of the swords. Crisp stepping is also done between and during figures, to give that extra dimension.
Then, as a finale, we lock the Swords together to finish the dance. If you’re really lucky that happens mid-dance as well. For extra entertainment a Tommy (someone dressed as a man) and/or a Betty (a man dressed as a woman) act as fools, interact with the audience, cover up/create mistakes and generally create amusement.
All this was originally to get people to part with their money and earn the miners a bit of extra cash. Since then the dance has spread all over England, Wales, North America and even to Kendal! We dance two Rapper Sword dances that are a mix of figures copied from other dances and ones we’ve developed ourselves.
Recently we have started to organise rapper tours. These take us round pubs and other public places with hard floors, to entertain anybody who happens to be there, and obviously to partake in the beverages that may be supplied by kindly landlords. Guest sides are sometimes invited to join us on our tours. This creates a bit more of a buzz and gives us the chance to meet other rapper sides.
In 2014 we will hopefully be competing at DERT (Dancing England Rapper Tournament) with a new dance which will combine figures from our current dances along with one or two new ones.
Watch this space to see how we do.
Congratulations to the Rapper Team. Another success at D.E.R.T. 2015