Rapper - The Miners' Sword Dance of North East England
Rapper - The Miners’ Sword Dance of North East England
Book and DVD-ROM chronicling the history of traditional North East dance to be published
Release Date: 6 October, 2012
Author: Phil Heaton
Publisher: English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS)
Produced by Garland Films
Available to purchase from the Folkshop from Saturday 6 October 2012
Rapper - The Miners’ Sword Dance of North East England is a book that celebrates the origins and recent developments of the short sword dance that originated in the pits and collieries of the North East.
What was once a pastime purely for men from the coalface in this corner of England is now a fast, entertaining and skilful dance practised by thousands of people in the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia and increasingly in Europe.
The new book, written by native North Eastener Phil Heaton, pulls together a collection of newspaper cuttings, documents, family histories and tales from the former Northumberland and Durham coalfields from where the dance originated.
Although well known as a particularly Northern pastime, growing numbers of miners adopted the old rural sword dance as the coalfield expanded in the 18th and 19th centuries to feed the Industrial Revolution. In the hands of the miners, the dance changed character and became shorter, faster and more of an indoor spectacle.
In recent years, the rapper dance has spread and developed in style and performance across the English-speaking world and its spectacular speed and precision sharpened in ruthless competition in the UK and USA.
Rapper - The Miners’ Sword Dance of North East England, published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), tells the story of rapper from its roots, through its Geordie development and its adoption and massive development among younger dancers and enthusiasts worldwide.
“... a one stop shop for all things rapper!” - Derek Schofield, Editor of English Dance and Song magazine
A double DVD-ROM, produced by Garland Films, has also been produced containing archival footage of traditional North Eastern teams such as High Spen, Earsdon, Winlaton and Newbiggin alongside modern teams such as the Kingsmen and Monkseaton.
The second disc contains histories, manuscripts and images of every rapper team found. It also shows dance movements developed from the original notations.
Producer Chris Metherell said: “The DVD-ROM uses modern technology to allow the reader to access the complete history of the rapper dance through original historical documents, photographs and archive film.
“Crucially, each piece of material has been the subject of rigorous research and analysis allowing readers an unprecedented insight into not only the dance itself but also the lives of the individuals involved in both the performance of the dance and its collection.”
“The book and DVD-ROM provide a worthy 21st century rapper (Short Sword) compendium to join established works of reference, ‘Bacon’ (Morris) and ‘Allsop’ (Long Sword)...” - Mary Wilson-Jones, English Folk Dance and Song Society Publications Committee
About the Author
Phil Heaton comes from a family steeped in the mining tradition from Seaham in County Durham. A former National Union of Miners member himself, he has been dancing rapper ever since he can remember.
As well as forming several of the celebrated sides on the rapper circuit, Phil was one of the prime movers behind the launch of Dancing England, a showcase of traditional dance, which led to the creation of the annual Dancing England Rapper Tournament.
Phil, who now lives in Draycott in Derbyshire, said: “The old Geordie pitmen would be proud but astounded by the modern vision of their dance and where it has spread to in the world today. The book gives an insight into how their humble past time has evolved into the high energy, entertaining and popular dance it is today.”
The official book launch will take place on 6 October 2012, at The Sage Gateshead as part of One Night in Gateshead - Dance Traditions of the North East: Clog and Sword event.