Traditional Competition Guidance Notes

By its nature, Rapper is a tradition that is constantly evolving and innovating. There is the danger that, as Rapper changes, it moves further away from its roots in the mining villages of Northumberland and Durham. The purpose of this competition is to act as a reminder of our roots and celebrate the link to these original Rapper dances and the people who danced them.

The current competition is judged 50% on the standard of the dance performance (in a similar way to the other DERT categories) and 50% on how well the dance adheres to the traditional notation. There will be a panel of 4 judges, 2 focused on performance and 2 focused on notation.

The notation element marks your submitted research references. Examples of major existing notations include:

‘Sword Dances of Northern England’ by Cecil Sharp;  

Rapper Online,

‘Rapper, the Miner’s Sword Dance of Northumberland and Durham’ by Phil Heaton EFDSS 2012

Publications by Christopher Cawte, Guiser Press 1967

There are other sources as well as new and undiscovered information out there waiting to be found. Source information can be in any format including film (eg Pathe News clips). However, if you are using and combining notation from several different notation sources they must be broadly contemporary with each other (eg a film from 1970 can not be used to support a change to documentation from 1930’s). Where source information is incomplete or unclear, submitted notations should clearly justify the basis for addressing any gaps. The judges will use their knowledge and experience to consider these.

Prior to the competition, judges will use the references cited in your researched notation to compile a single notation alignment score sheet for your dance, including its unique features and style points. Each detail of the dance is itemised in detail and judges will use this to mark how closely the notation is adhered to. This will account for a maximum of 30% of the total mark.

In addition the quality of the research itself can gain up to 10% of the total mark depending on the amount of original research and interpretation you provide.For example simply quoting page numbers from a source such as ‘Sword Dances of Northern England’ will gain fewer marks than demonstrating how the source is interpreted or how you have compiled a dance from multiple sources.

The remaining 10% will be awarded at the discretion of the 2 notation judges.

There has been some valuable research done in recent years as submissions to the Traditional competition. Submissions will be retained and the intention is to make this documentation available to the Rapper community and itself become a notation resource for the competition.

Points to note about the DERT Traditional Competition

  • The DERT Traditional Competition is NOT a re-enactment of an episode of 100 years ago – you will not be marked on replicating obvious mistakes in the original dance or notation, poor stepping, having swords of the wrong length, etc.
  • Whilst replicating kit worn by original teams is great fun, adds to the atmosphere and is to be encouraged, it will not earn you any more marks.
  • Few notations include specific tunes for the dance but if your chosen notation names tunes to be used then they will be included in the alignment notation and may carry a mark. However when tunes are merely suggested in the notation then a team need not feel restricted to these tunes.
  • Music may be played on any instrument of your choice.
  • Dances do not have to include every figure recorded for that tradition; figures may be included or dropped but new or extraneous figures may not be added.