Hundreds of sword dancers set to compete in Sheffield

Hundreds of sword dancers set to compete in Sheffield

19 March 2018

Sheffield will play host to hundreds of sword dancers this weekend (24 March), when the Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT) 2018 is held in the city. 

The biggest folk dance competition of its kind, the annual event sees ‘rapper’ dance teams from across the UK and overseas descend on the host city for a weekend of competitive dancing. This year 28 teams will be competing in Sheffield, including several from America and Europe, meaning over 400 sword dancers and musicians will be taking part. 

Rapper dancing is a traditional folk dance hailing from the North East of England. Fast and furious, it involves five people dancing with flexible swords known as ‘rappers’. The dance is usually performed in tight spaces such as pubs and includes intricate, inter-woven figures, high-speed spins, forward and backward somersaults, fast percussive stepping and interlocked swords known as ‘locks’. 

DERT 2018 will see teams perform at five Sheffield pubs, as well as Sheffield Cathedral, on Saturday 24th March. At each venue expert judges will award points to teams based on a number of criteria, including sword handling, stepping, kit and music. In the evening, a sold-out showcase and prize-giving at the Cathedral will see this year’s DERT champions crowned in front of over 600 rapper fans. 

The event is being organised by Sheffield Steel Rapper, one of Sheffield’s two rapper teams, who have been performing in the city and across the country since 2012. 

Laura English-Rose, part of the DERT 2018 organising committee, said: 

“It’s a huge honour to be hosting DERT in Sheffield and we can’t wait to welcome the world’s best rapper teams to our city. Rapper is an exciting, vibrant form of folk dance which is seeing growing numbers taking part every year. Sheffield is the city of morris and folk dance, so we know that audiences here are going be really enthusiastic about the performances, which always makes for a great atmosphere.” 

The competition starts at 11:00 and continues until 4:30. Dancing will take place at: The Church House, The Dove & Rainbow, Shakespeare’s, The Hillsborough Hotel, The Ship Inn and Sheffield Cathedral. 

For more information on the competition, including a full schedule of dance timings, team profiles and merchandise, visit,, or follow @dert2018 on Twitter.