Dancing England Rapper Tournament

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The Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT) [1] is a continuation of the most significant rapper sword dance competitions that were held in Newcastle upon Tyne, the centre of the coalfields where the dance originated.

The modern annual weekend event, held at different venues in the UK, brings together teams and dancers from around the country and occasionally abroad.

While the element of competition is important, the social aspects are just as fierce. The essential idea behind the tournament was then and is now that teams have to practice well and develop their skills, giving their performance a polish and their audiences a treat.

The Newcastle Tournament of Music and Art, which included a Traditional Short Sword or Rapper competition for seniors and juniors was held annually in the City Hall from just after the Great War until the early fifties.

The event consisted of many musical and performance classes held over most of a week, but it was the Saturday Rapper competition that drew the most crowds. So prestigious was the Rapper, that judges were imported from the newly formed, London-based, English Folk Dance Society, founded and directed by the great folk song and dance collector, Cecil Sharp.

The pit villages where the dance was "invented" were known for their tight knit communities and fierce independence, and they sent their best teams along. The City Hall was packed and the press were ready to lionise the winners. The dances were honed to sharpness, the kit was impressive, the music was described as 'first class' and the pride of the Durham and Northumberland Miner was there to be seen. The pace quickened as first the Juniors, then a few women's and girls' teams and then finally the men competed for Trophy, medals and glory.

In the early days, papers such as the Evening Chronicle and the Northern Echo had banner headlines of the results giving fame and pride to the village of the Trophy winners. Whichever team won was copied. Stepping patterns, new tunes and of course the best figures and movements were stolen or borrowed. Rivalry was high with reported fights backstage and around town. Stories are whispered of musician and dancer nobbling before and after the competition.

The modern event is not quite so cutthroat, but cameras, recorders and videos and a few free pints of beer have been part of the sword team's armoury for a while.

The DERT competition[edit]

The modern DERT competition has its origin in an event which took place during the Dancing England concert of traditional English dancing which was held in the Assembly Rooms in Derby. A rapper competition known as the Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT) took place on the afternoon prior to the evening concert.

Following the demise of Dancing England, the rapper sword competition continued under the name "DERT".

Competition venues[edit]

The most recent DERT competition took place in Burton-on-Trent in March 2013.

Details of the locations and dates of recent DERT competitions are given below.

EventLocationDates
DERT 2014Leeds7 March - 9 March 2014
DERT 2013Burton-on-Trent8 March - 10 March 2013
DERT 2012London30 March - 1 April 2012
DERT 2011Oxford4–6 March 2011
DERT 2010Derby9–11 April 2010
DERT 2009Newcastle13–15 March 2009
DERT 2008Liverpool07-9 March 2008
DERT 2007Nottingham10–11 March 2007
DERT 2006York17–19 March 2006
DERT 2005Preston4–6 March 2005
DERT 2004Bath26–28 March 2004
DERT 2003Glasgow4–6 April 2003
DERT 2002Sheffield12–16 April 2002
DERT 2001Masham2–4 March 2001
DERT 2000Greenwich4–6 March 2000
DERT 1999Newcastle upon Tyne5–7 March 1999

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]. The Nut On the Web. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.

External links[edit]