If someone asked you “What’s a rapper?” Would you, like me, imagine a musician or poet? But a rapper is also a long, narrow, flexible steel blade with a handle at each end; one handle fixed, the other rotating. In the 19th century, rappers replaced rigid blades used in the traditional sword dances of Northumberland and Durham miners.
This tradition waxed and waned with two wars and the fortunes of the collieries, until Newcastle students revived it in 1949. It percolated to other areas, including Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, both regions with strong coal-mining traditions. Now rapper dancing is enjoyed worldwide.
No need to travel. There’s a U3A ‘Longsword and Rapper Dancing’ group in Rotherham. Visiting it before the snows of March, I was struck by the rhythms and patterns of the dancing, and the mental and physical agility demanded of the dancers. What a fun way to preserve our heritage and to keep fit. New members are welcome. Contact Denise Young on 01709 306550 for more details.
Singing together is something so old that its origins are lost in history. The U3A Choir goes back only five years, but during that time, has established a tradition of Christmas and summer concerts, delighting audiences and raising thousands of pounds for local charities.
Now they’re launching something new by offering to do concerts free of charge for local groups, to help them raise funds for their chosen charity. They can provide a choir of around 50 singers, or fewer if preferred. Contact Cath Simpkins on 01909 567161 for details.
Totally new are the 2018 programmes of the ‘Out and About’ and ‘Gardening’ groups respectively. On 12th April the former visits the Shugborough Estate near Stafford, once described as “a perfect paradise”. The coach costs £15.00 and entry for non-National Trust members is £11.70. Contact Barbara Riley on 01709 878430 to find out more. On Friday 20th April the Gardening group visits the beautiful spring gardens at RHS Harlow Carr. The coach costs £15.00 and entry for non-RHS members is £9.50. To find out more contact Martin Ford on 01709 324672. Non-U3A members welcome on both visits, there is a £2.00 surcharge.
Visit www.u3asites.org.uk/rotherham or call Tricia Macredie on 01709 370899 to learn more.