Correspondence on 'A History of the Rapper Dance', Folk Music Journal, 9.1 (2006), 95-96

Article excerpt

Apropos Dr Cawte's coments, might I suggest that his informant's recollection confused the reason given by Kenworthy Schofield for disqualifying Lemington at the 1930 North of England Musical Tournament with the down-marking of Westerhope by Cecil Sharp at the 1922 tournament, as reported in the Newcastle Daily Chronicle of 5 June 1922:

  Westerhope, in anticipation of opposition, had keyed up their dance
  to an extraordinary pitch of virtuosity, and in the result it proved
  their undoing, for the adjudicator [Cecil Sharp] evidently thought
  the performance was becoming too much of an acrobatic display, to
  the detriment of the dancing ideal. The result, though a surprise to
  many, was understandable.

  The 'Cowen' trophy this year left Westerhope and went to the
  newcomers from Winlaton, who, it cannot be denied, really brought
  back one's remembrances as a small boy of what the Northumbrian
  sword-dancing of those days was, and probably preserved the tradition
  better than any other team forward. (1)

GORDON RIDGEWELL

Hertford

I have carefully looked over my contemporary dated records and found additional information. Text within quotation marks is copied exactly from my notes. Three people told me about Lemington in either 1955 or 1956.

'George Brownlow said that a team from here [Lemington] had performed at a competition. They had done somersaults backwards and forwards over the rappers, and various things which he thought they had invented. He said D. Kennedy was the judge, and told them such things were not really rapper.' George Brownlow was along-standing member of the Newcastle EFDSS and of the Newcastle Morris Men. He was musical adviser to Gateshead Council, and he arranged annual visits, lasting a week, for Carl Dolmetsch to give lecture recitals in schools, and professional fees were paid. I assumed that he was referring to the North of England Musical Tournament, and 1 know of no other for adults in that area. But according to the programmes, Lemington appeared there only twice, in 1929 and 1930, when Douglas Kennedy was not the judge, unless his wife was ill in 1929 and he took over (without a note in the Tournament Office copy of the programme), but that was not the year of the disqualification.

Miss E. M. Hogg was also a long-time member of the EFDSS, a regular teacher of traditional dancing, and enthusiastically interested in Northumbrian traditions. 'She had seen the Lemington team years ago. They wore "taps" on their shoes, and were taught by a man from somewhere else, but she was not sure where.'

Harry Lowerson was the source for the Murton rapper dance, so he had an active interest in the subject. He was Number One for some years, and had a team of boys, photographed in 1926. …