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The Rapper Sword Figures


The Performance



During the Calling On Song, the dancers enter as they are introduced, standing in a line with1 at the right hand end, all facing forwards. The dancers hold their sword, swivel end in their right hand and point in their left, with the two ends vertical so that the sword is bent in an inverted "U" shape. When the music starts, wait for 8 bars before starting to step for 8 bars and then 1 moves forwards to the left, keeping the swivel end of their sword in their right hand and gently straightening their sword so that the point end can be released without it straightening abruptly like a spring. The dancers link up in a ring, now driving forwards anticlockwise, holding the previous dancer's point in their left hand.

Over the next 4 or so bars, the dancers, still driving forwards round the ring, contract the circle, moving their own sword over their neighbour's left shoulder. This needs to be a tight circle so the swords need to be bent nearly double.

The dancers then execute the dance figures in any order.

Coach and HorsesAs 1 reaches the front of the performance area, 5, 4 and 3 lift their swords and points and turn left so that they face front as shown. 3 transfers their sword to 4's right shoulder and 4 does the same to 5. 3 holds their sword and point like reins. 1 and 5 hold 1's sword across the front of the group like the front of a waggon. All facing front, they step as required and then execute Moving Fixy.

Moving FixyStarting from the Coach & Horses position, the dancers move around the positions anti-clockwise until they return to place.

As the phrase of music starts, 5 moves backwards to 4's place, 4 takes 3's, 3 moves forwards to 2's, 2 to 1's and 1 lifts their sword and point and moves to 5's place while turning once around to the left. The dancers adjacent to the one turning, lift the sword being lifted to avoid the one turning having to duck. Each move takes 4 marching steps (2 bars - left, right, left, right) and then the dancers step-shuffle 4 times (2 bars). The sequence repeats until all return to their original places and then the Nut is formed.

The NutThe Nut needs to be made in one flowing movement. From the Coach & Horses position, all turn in to make a circle linked by the swords. 1 and 5 lift 1's sword and 2, 3 and 4 go through the gap and, raising their swords to avoid ducking, 1, 2, 3 and 4 all turn all the way around to the left. 5 does not turn. With the left hand under and the right hand uppermost, the Nut is formed and thrust upwards triumphantly. The dancers step in place.

To untie the Nut, 1 and 5 lift 5's sword and the others pass through to resume the anticlockwise ring.

The making of the Nut should be complete in 4 steps. The same for the untieing.

From the Coach & Horses position, all lift their swords above their heads to prevent ducking during the figure. 1, followed by 2, cast right and 5, followed by 4, cast left. 3 can follow either 2 or 4. As you circulate around, make sure that there is no overtaking and that 1 and 5 pass through together on each circuit. After sufficient rotations have been made, reform the Coach & Horses position or, better still, flow into a Nut.

An added sophistication can be made by performing the Figure of Eight. In this case, after a few rotations of Curley have been completed, 1 shouts "Figure of Eight" and, as they pass through the central arch, 1 changes over with 5, passing in front and then 2 changes over in front of 4. Again, 3 can go either way. As they rotate back, they swap over again and this cycle can be repeated as necessary until 1 calls "Curley" and Curley is resumed with the dancers each on their correct circuits. The swords usually look very tangled during this figure which makes it even more amazing to the audience when the tangle is "magically" undone. It is critical to hold onto your sword and point tightly to avoid accidents.

There are many more figures that are possible and, once you are proficient with the basic figures you might want to try some of the following;

You can probably find even more figures by searching the internet.

Single Guard

Single GuardFrom the tight circle, each dancer in turn is going to travel in the opposite direction around the outside of the circle.

After 1 calls "Single Guard" they lift their sword and point (as do the adjacent dancers) and step out of the ring turning right. They take a couple of steps in the reverse direction and then turn right back into their place as it comes round again. As they return, 2 steps out, repeating the move made by 1. Then each dancer repeats the move in turn.

The move can be made to look very slick if the ring continues at a constant speed and the swap from one person to the next stepping out of the ring is made smoothly.

Double Guard

This is similar to Single Guard except that 1 and 2 step out of the ring and then 1 follows 2 in the wrong direction to rejoin the ring as their place comes around again.

Then 2 and 3 execute the move followed by 3 and 4, then 4 and 5. Make sure that there is no overtaking.

Prince of Wales

Prince of WalesFrom the Nut, the dancers release the tension in the swords by backing out slightly and making a horizontal lock at about waist height. Tighten the star and make it symmetrical so that, at the appropriate time, 1 can grasp the lock close to its centre (right hand) and take the weight. The others release their grip and 1 turns the lock upside down. The dancers arrange themselves in front of a sword and point pair and grips the handle with the right hand and point with the left with right hand crossed above the left. The dancers unlock the lock and pass the swords over their heads and behind their backs and down to their waists. They then lean back onto the swords and spin round anticlockwise for 4 or 8 bars of music.

To finish the figure, bring the sword back over your heads and make a tight lock with your right hand over your left. Let 1 take the weight and turn the lock over but this time position it so that the dancers are at a gap between the sword and point pairs. The dancers take hold of their sword handle by passing their right hand under their neighbour's left hand. (Obviously, they take hold of their respective point with their left hand over their other neighbour's right hand.) From here the nut can be shown again and then unlocked.

If the turning process takes a bit of time, it helps to keep stepping to fill up the delay.


From the tight circle, open out and then step in place with the swords bent in an inverted U between the dancers. At the start of a phrase of music 4 and 5 sweep their swords to the ground moving forwards. 3 co-operates as necessary. 1 and 2 step forwards and jump over the appropriate sword and, once they have landed safely, all raise their swords and turn left, making the nut.

The nut can be released in the usual way.

© R. Stradling 2015