Documenting English Music, Dance and Song

Rapper. The Miners' Sword Dance of North-East England


This DVD set celebrates the origins and recent developments of the short sword dance that originated in the pits and collieries of the North East.


The rapper, or short-sword dance, was the speciality of the pitmen of the North-East coalfield during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After the First World War, performances became more focussed on competition dancing, resulting in the development of a flashier, more theatrical style. This trend has been followed through to the 21st century, teams still regularly competing and developing new material within a traditional framework.


The first disc, suitable for viewing either on a domestic player (or computer) contains archival footage of traditional North Eastern teams such as High Spen, Earsdon, Winlaton and Newbiggin alongside modern teams such as the Newcastle Kingsmen and the Monkseaton Morris Men.


The second disc, for computer use, contains full histories of every North-East rapper team traced, together with copies of manuscripts and books, photographs and other records where these are available. The rapper dance is notoriously difficult to describe on paper, and the opportunity has been taken to use the available technology to the full by providing films clips of the majority of rapper figures enabling the user to see the dance at the same time as reading a description. Additionally the authors have traced over two hundred more modern teams and provided histories of each, in most cases accompanied with photographs and in some cases with film footage.


Price £15.50 including p&p.


Copyright © Garland Films 2014