Rapper dancing is a fast-paced traditional English dance which originated from the mining communities of the Northumberland and Durham coalfield. The dance itself is performed by five people connected by flexible swords with a handle at each end, forming a chain. Without breaking this chain the dancers perform intricate moves, creating display figures by twisting, tangling, and jumping and/or somersaulting over the swords. A common feature which appears in most dances, whether traditional or modern, is the interlocking of all five swords into a star shape- known as a lock- which is then held aloft, to rapturous applause (?) from the audience. The dance is almost always accompanied by a musician or band playing 6/8 jigs. A percussive element is provided by a variety of different steps performed by the dancers, derived from the clog dance tradition of the North East of England. Resin-soled shoes coupled with a good wooden floor help to amplify this stepping.
If this brief overview has whet your appetite to learn more about rapper dancing, we’d definitely recommend checking out some videos to get a better idea of this niche sport of ours- as a starting point, try here or here for some footage of DERTs gone by.