Hawksword perform English longsword and rapper dances. These dances originated in Yorkshire and Northumberland although they are likely to be related to sword dances from many other parts of Northern Europe.
They are a friendly, mixed-gender, multi-generational group. Musicians and dancers are always welcome to join. Hawksword’s rapper is in the modern style which developed during the folk revival of the 1970s.
One of them was a member of Keele Rapper who were influential in the mid t late 1970s, and several of the team were members of East Saxon Sword who were famed for their innovative figures and novel locks from the 1970s to the turn of the century.
Ryburn Longsword formed in September 1994 and since that time have established quite a reputation, even amongst the sword dance fraternity who gave the teams a standing ovation at their evening performance at the International Sword Spectacular 1998 in Whitby.
The first dance the senior team chose to learn was that from the village of Bellerby, which has a reputation for being a difficult dance, and they have performed it well on almost every occasion. Add to that the fact that these dancers are not “folk enthusiasts” with some experience of the scene, but village people from the Ryburn Valley doing this for the first time, you can see why people have been impressed.
Lord Conyer’s Morris Men
Lord Conyers Morris Men are a traditional Morris Dancing side from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, founded in 1974. They dance a wide variety of dances from different traditions and can be found in the summer months dancing at various pubs and festivals in South Yorkshire and the surrounding area. They have spent the last two winters working on the Winlaton dance from the Northumbrian rapper sword tradition, which, when opportunity arises, they dance indoors. Or do longsword outdoors as you can see by the photo.
Maltby Phoenix are a community-based team of enthusiasts who specialise in traditional English Sword Dancing. They perform dances in two distinct styles; the short sword or ‘Rapper’ dances from North-Eastern England, and the Longsword dances of the Yorkshire region.
They have three teams at the moment including their ‘Nestlings’ – probably the youngest (and they think they’re pretty special as dancers) longsword team in the UK.
They meet every Monday in the Maltby Miner’s Welfare institute in the dance room.
This team meets for practice on Tuesday at the The Longcar Inn, Racecommon Road, Barnsley from 8.30 pm. Their annual dance is at The Spencer Arms in Cawthorne, Nr. Barnsley on Sunday after Christmas Day at 1 pm.. Dance out as and when invited, offten joining with Wath on a pub tour.
Triskele Sword, a mixed-gender team, formed in 2000 specifically to host and perform at DERT 2002. Triskele Sword take their name from the three-legged Celtic symbol which represents the interaction of earth, water and sky.
The most widely-known Triskele is the crest of the Isle of Man, the ‘Legs of Man’, which was registered in 1847 as the trademark of the famous Sheffield tool-maker Joseph Tyzack a maker of fine rapper swords for more than 40 years.
Triskele Sword have performed at every DERT since 2002.
High Spen Blue Diamonds
The Blue Diamonds were formed in the Durham (UK) pit village of High Spen in 1926 by Fred Forster. When formed, all of the dancers were young boys, and one of them was Fred’s own son of the same name. He grew up and led the team until his death in 1986 when his son Frederick (Ricky) took over leadership. Ricky’s brother Colin and his son Gary, are also active members of the team.
This family team is now supplemented by other dancers and musicians living in the Newcastle Area.
The High Spen Tradition now consists of some 40 different figures (developed by the team) which have been grouped to form four different dances including the new High Spen ‘Express’.
Black Rigg Rapper
Black Rigg Rapper was formed in 2007 and is currently a mixed side, although eventually they would like to be able to have a male and a female team. They dress in black collarless shirts, black trousers and wear a green and purple sash, reflecting the colours of the North Yorkshire moors.
They perform a mixture of traditional and self composed dances using traditional moves. Black Rigg have appeared at various pubs, private functions, ceilidhs and folk festivals including Whitby Moor & Coast, Sword Spectacular (York 2008), Saddleworth, Otley and Dent Festivals, Darlington Spring Thing and Whitworth Rushcart event.
The Newcastle Kingsmen were founded in 1949 as a rag-week stunt by students at King’s College, then the Newcastle Division of the University of Durham. Taught by Professor Bill Cassie, the team started by performing the Winlaton rapper dance, and decided to continue after rag week. They originally called themselves the King’s College Morris Men, but later changed their name.
Members of the side, encouraged by Professor Cassie, travelled out to rapper villages around Newcastle to find old rapper dancers and learn about their traditional dances. Many of these dances had not been performed for many years and may well have died out without trace without the efforts of these students. Traditional dances whose notations were collected and published by members of this team include High Spen, Amble, Bedlington and Murton.
The origins of Sullivans Sword go back to 1975 when the Owd ‘Oss Mummers decided to widen their repertoire and perform a sword play. Their first instruction came from Sybil Clark of the English Folk Dance and Song Society who taught them the basics of a dance from the Yorkshire village of Sleights in return for running a workshop on mumming.
After many ups and downs they now feel confident in their dancing with 13 enthusiastic dancers: Alistair (Captain), 3 Johns, 2 Davids, 2 Brians, Idwal, Malcolm, Helen, Nigel and Chris. They’re eagerly looking forward to dancing out in future with 2 sides, and learning an 8 person dance.
Rockingham Rapper formed in October 2004 and they take their name from the Rockingham Forest of Northamptonshire, near to our first practice venue. The team performs Rapper sword dances based on the North East of England traditions and Appalachian step dances.
They are regulars at festivals and events all around the country and have even won a prize or two over the years. In 2011 Rockingham competed in the annual Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT) in Oxford finishing third in the Open Class. The team have won other prizes, taking the title “most entertaining dance side” and “best song” accolade at the Moira Canal Festival 2011 and 2012.
They are probably the only dance side to incorporate Queen and Gilbert & Sullivan into our musical repertoire. Beware. They WILL Rock you!
Pateley Longsword, formerly Pateley Real Ale Tasting Society (Prats) was formed in 2004 by experienced dancers from other Morris traditions. All their longsword dances are devised by themselves and they try to bring a vitality and freshness to the tradition.
They intersperse the longsword with other dances such as a Basque dance or a Hebridean dance. Pateley Bridge is in Nidderdale, designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. The nearest towns are Harrogate and Ripon North Yorkshire.
The Southport Swords are a team of Sword and Morris dancers based in Southport, which is a seaside town about 12 miles north of Liverpool, England. They were formed in 1968 primarily to dance English longsword dances, but also Cotswold and rapper. Recognisable by their trendy navy blue cord trousers, white shirts, red cummerbunds and spotted neckerchiefs, they have danced across the UK and in Eire, Belgium and France.
Redcar Sword Dancers
One bright, cold December afternoon, a troupe of young men dressed in red, beribboned jackets arrived unannounced at the village of Greatham. It was Boxing Day, 1967, the beginning of the revival of an ancient tradition.
Redcar Sword Dancers perform traditional English longsword dances from the north east of England. Although chiefly known for their revival of the Greatham dance and the associated mummers play, they perform Eston and California and other dances from the north east corner of Yorkshire.
Ryknild Rabble are based in Lichfield which is in the county of Staffordshire, England. Apart from August, they practice most Sundays at King’s Bromley Village Hall from 1130 until 1300. If you fancy a go, get in touch.
The side started in 1988 as Ryknild Rapper but in 1990 became the Rabble with the addition of Border and Clog dancing. More recently Long Sword dancing has also been introduced.
Ryknild Rabble have appeared at festivals and events all over the country including the Sidmouth International festival, Towersey Weekend festival, Upton upon Severn Folk Festival amongst others, the three recent International Sword Gatherings, rapper tournaments, numerous other folk festivals and weekends of dance. They have danced recently in Germany, Austria and France
Consisting of men, women and children of all ages the Rabble are an enthusiastic and fun side who give an entertaining and varied display of dance.
They are based in Stevenage in Hertfordshire, England. Their favourite activity is to visit a few pubs to entertain the drinkers with the Rapper dance and collect for our beer. They dance in the summer with local Morris sides and occasionally at sword dance meetings or folk festivals.
They practise most Tuesday evenings from about 8.30 in Stevenage. Contact the side to check exactly where and when. Recruits with or without experience are welcome (as the oldest member of the regular side would like to retire but they can’t spare him yet.)
As Stevenage mainly dance for the customers in the pubs they visit and tours are only set up a couple of weeks ahead, anyone wanting to see them in action should contact the side for details.
One Day Rapper
One Day Rapper aims to give you a taste of the infectious world of traditional rapper sword dancing. In one day they can teach you a traditional rapper dance and get you out performing it on a pub crawl in the evening.
ODR can also be booked through Cinquefoil Rapper, where you can also find out further information.
Cardiff’s newest, finest (and only) mixed rapper sword team! Consisting of an ex-Northgate Rapper member, two attendees of festival rapper workshops and a couple of morris types, plus a lady fiddler (although she says she’s not a lady), this team are gradually getting it together.
Based at The Owain Glyndwr in Cardiff city centre, Taff Rapper are usually to be found learning established figures and putting them together in a different order. Practices are on a Thursday from 7:30pm until 9:30pm.
Duck or Grouse Rapper
The peculiar Duck or Grouse, with its distinctive raspberry and blue plumage, is commonly found in the snowy environs of Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota, along the northern edge of the USA. It was first sighted in the summer of 2006 hiding amongst a flock of Scottish country dancers and was lured into the open by an attraction to shiny swords and loud jigging noises. It has atendency to live in the borderlands, occasionally showing signs of its Scottish dancing ancestry in both movement and song, while attempting to learn more traditional behaviors via YouTube. This gregarious beast should not be confused with its distant relative, the Greater Prairie Chicken, ordinarily easily distinguished by its pronounced stutter-step and deep hooting moan, though in moments of stress or injury the Duck or Grouse has been known to mimic its cousin to confuse predators.
Bristol’s newest rapper team, formed in August 2014, are a mixed team bringing enthusiasm and energy to traditional rapper dances, identifiable by their sashes and socks in the blue and ruby colours of Bristol Blue Glass. They practice on a Tuesday nights from 8-10pm at the Queens Head in Fishponds, Bristol, BS5 6PY
The inspiration for the name came from the area next to Brunel’s Lock, or maybe from the fact that they prefer to end our dances with the lock held left or right of centre, or then again, it might just have something to do with them needing to work on their lock technique as in the old Bristolian cry of “Yer, it be Locksided again!”, they’ll let you decide.