Traipsing around Yorkshire Dance

Juncture – Day 12
Friday 16 March

Bright Furnace – The Traipse
Sharing & discussion

The Traipse - sharing & discussionThis sharing of work in progress was affected by one of the five dancers being rushed away ill. So Harry Theaker, choreographer and driver behind this project, stepped in at the last minute as a dancer.

Following a welcoming introduction of each dancer by the Betty / Tommy character (played by Stewart Gibb-Lodge) we watched the rapper sword-dance performed by five men and women in its most traditional form.

The Bright Furnace Traipse also includes a contemporary interpretation without swords but that was not performed due of dancer sickness).

The rapper-sword dance consists of a number of segments, each with its own name, which are called by the number-one dancer. There is a rich history and tradition of this dance, originating in the mines of northern England and normally performed by troupes of five men on a traipse around public houses in tiny spaces.

Unlike some other forms of English folk dance, the rapper dance, which requires excellent precision, high skills-level and speed, is renowned for its danger, surprise and vibrant, uplifting energy.

The discussion afterwards touched on the experience of the contemporary dancers learning this traditional form; the role of the Betty / Tommy character; the folk tradition and folk-scene, and the response of the (mostly) contemporary dance audience watching.

Overwhelmingly the response was one of feeling included and involved, enjoying the excitement of the rhythmical precision and feeling energised and enthused. Harry’s enquiry with this piece of work, for which he’s also researched his audiences through interviews, centres around notions of Englishness and cultural identity which also provided impetus for some of the discussion.

The full Traipse will visit public spaces, pubs, cafes, schools, colleges and hotels in Barnsley, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, Grimsby and London at the Rapperlympics (26-31 March 2012).

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