Black Adder hosted this years Dance England Rapper Tournament in the beautiful Yorkshire village of Masham. It was a brilliant weekend of dance, with many fine rapper teams coming together, and overcoming the external problems caused by the foot and mouth epidemic and snowy weather conditions, to perform in the competition.
This competition is held annually and has different categories which are open to any rapper side that wishes to take part. The first section is the Open section, which is divided into Open Evolved Dance (own dance) and Open Traditional Dance, and any team which has not previously won in either of these sections, can enter. The second section is the Premier Evolved Dance and Premier Traditional Dance. Only winners of the Open section can compete in the Premier section. There are prizes for the Best Musician, Best Character and The Steve Marris Trophy, which is awarded to the team judged best overall. Throughout the competition there are exhibition dances performed by those teams wishing to dance, but not compete.
This year, the judges - we had been told - had been carefully selected for their particular specialist knowledge and best possible, unbiased, judging. They certainly worked hard for us, not only in the judging itself, but they also filled in a comments sheet on each aspect (music, presentation, characters, stepping, Buzz Factor, sword handling and dance technique) of the teams performance! For new and experienced sides alike these comments can give reassurance that you have a great dance, and also give ideas to make it even better!!
The weekend started on Friday night as we drove through snowy streets to find our accommodation. After 4 hours of driving it was very pleasant to find a pub, meet up with familiar faces and catch up on all the news! Saturday morning gave the teams a chance to dance in the pubs around Masham (and lose some of the nerves!) before the competition commenced in the Black Sheep Brewery at 2:00 p.m.
Insword were the first to compete and such was the good atmosphere and friendly support, that pleasure in the dance took over from the nerves and I enjoyed every moment! In our group the other teams were, Mabel Gubbins, Short Circuit B and the winners Black Swan; and in the Open Traditional we saw Black Boy come first in front of Dark Horse. There were 6 teams battling it out in the Premier Evolving Dance, and the judges awarded first to Short Circuit A, second to Stone Monkey and joint third to Northgate and Thrales. Others competing in this class were Pengwyn and Ryknild. The last team category was the Premier Traditional, another hotly contested event in which Sallyport came first, Newcastle Kingsmen came second and Addison third.
On Saturday evening each team was bussed out to Ripon and given a list of the pubs, complete with what beer and food they served, whether their floors were wooden or carpeted and - most important of all - whether they were rapper friendly! This meant we were free to eat, drink, dance and socialise as we chose! When the time came for us to be bussed back to Masham, many continued the evening at the Black Sheep Brewery.
Three workshops were held on Sunday a.m. a choice between stepping, dancing and tumbling. My choice was the tumbling where I helped out being one of the shoulders which supported the would-be tumblers (my shoulders carried the bruises for 2 weeks after!).
At 1:00 p.m., there was a massed stand and dancing in the pubs around Masham, but whilst we stayed and watched the dancing for a short while, Insword opted to set off on the long journey home. I really did enjoy this weekend, the venue was great, there were many opportunities to socialise, and dance, and do it at a pace that suited each team individually. The competition and the workshops were entertaining and I was glad to have been a part of it. Thank you so much to Black Adder, and everyone else that made the weekend such a success!
Sue Graham, June 2001
Source: Morris Matters Volume 20: Number 2 (contact Beth Neill Beth.Neill@care4free.net for subscription or contribution information)