Keeping the tradition alive

Ricky Forster describes how he is helping new blood learn the Rapper in its homeland.

In 1995, Gateshead Amateur Arts Association helped pay for me to go into schools for about six weeks, ending with a dance day at Barley Mow. On that day, many of the senior rapper teams from the area turned up to help put the kiddies through the dance and show them how to dance one of their own figures.

Some of the schools entered three teams; a lot danced with plastic rappers but the brave ones danced with steel swords.Since then, I have carried on working in two schools, West Lane, Winlaton, and Kelvin Grove, Bensham. I also help Ednie Wilson with Ridley Rapper and Clog at Blaydon Libraries (new members always welcome!).

Every term brings in new dancers and we have to start all over again. I have a lot of pleasure watching the kiddies struggling with the dance at first - and then the smiles on their faces as they learn how to move and cross and then hold up the star. When it stays up, everyone gets a great feeling of achievement!With a little luck, the seed I plant today may bring forth dancers in future years. At the moment, two out of three dancers are girls. It is a shame that the boys find it so daunting but every term I hope that more lads will come forward.The dancers I have trained have danced out at the Darlington tournament, local shows and school projects.

I am hoping that DERT has a good response from all over the country for the junior class, so that the kiddies I train will be able to see how other junior teams dance.Some of them have never seen any other teams (junior or senior) dance and it might give them an incentive to carry on in the future.

The DERT junior class will be held on the Saturday morning of the main tournament. Their class will be an exhibition only - I hope this will encourage them to persevere and carry on dancing well into the new millennium.

Ricky also tells us that he knows of several schools that teach rapper dancing on an occasional basis. He is very keen to involve at least some of them in DERT 98.