The World

The city we’re bound for in today’s Geo Quiz was founded by the Romans in the first century of the first millenium, so its nearly 2,000 years old!

It’s located in northern England right where the Rivers Ouse and Foss join up. The city’s been taken over by hundreds and hundreds of sword dancers this weekend at their annual “Sword Spectacular.” More than 700 dancers will be doing their thing: quick stepping with a sword in hand, and an occasional somersault, all to the quick beat of a jig played on a fiddle or accordion.

The dancers step with a sort of a “rat-a-tat-tat-a-tat-tat” kind of motion with their feet. That is one of the most difficult parts to really get clean, and unified so that you just sound like one being, making those taps.

So can you name this city at the confluence of the Ouse and Foss…where it’s said there’s a church for every week of the year and a pub for every day of the year.

The answer’s just a few quick steps away?

Time now to answer our geo quiz. We asked you to name a city in northern Europe that dates back to ancient Rome.

The answer comes courtesy of Jan Elliott: “I’m the coach and musician for the Clownfish Rapper Sword Dancers, and we are off to the International Sword Spectacular in York, England.”

York, England is the answer.

The Clownfish Rapper Sword Dancers are a group of teenagers from Falmouth, Massachusetts who are heading to York for a sword dancing festival this weekend.

Producer Naomi Arenberg caught up with the Clownfish Rappers at practice earlier this week and sent us this Audio postcard

Jan Elliott on the meaning of “rapper sword”:

“Rapper swords are flexible pieces of metal with a wooden handle on each end. One of the handles is fixed, and the other one rolls or twists in your hand, and that allows these dancers to link up in a ring, but that rings twists and turns into all kinds of pretzel-y shapes. And the figures in the rapper sword dance are highly varied. It’s about anything you can do, linked in a ring with these flexible swords, so you can get very close together, and have the swords sort of wrapped around each other’s backs or on each other’s shoulders. You can lower one, and everyone can jump over it, and twist and spin, and there’s even opportunity for flips, back-flips, and now they’re doing front-flips as well over the swords.”

17 year old Casey Stevens on the difference between rap and “rapper”:

“Don’t get me wrong. I love my rap music, but rapper dancing and rap music is completely different. Rapper dance actually originated in the mines, the coal mines, where they used the swords to wipe the sweat off the donkeys, and I guess they were bored down there one day, so they decided to create a dance, using these swords, and so there’s no connection between rapper dancing and rap music.”

Jan Elliott on the Sword Spectacular:

“The idea was to have the largest gathering of sword teams that there has ever been. There are over 40 teams coming. After meeting-and-greeting on Friday night, we’re going to be dancing through the city of York on Saturday. There’s a grand parade of all the teams through the city center, and apparently we’re going to be farmed out to different pubs all across the city, to see if we can squeeze in there because rapper was traditionally danced in pubs.”

Rapper Sword Dance instructions:

Enter in line (from L side in order #1-5, or R side in reverse order)
Forward, clash, spin L, clash, closed ring
Single [single guard]
Guard position – step
Crazy [Figure 8]
Guard position – step
NEW – Changing the Guard?
Nut (flip nut)
Prince of Wales
(Flip nut)
In & Out
Shoes: face out, swords down on 4, step, let go & move out, step, twisty thing to finish phrase
[Silent pause]
“4 potatoes”: on beat 4, shoulder sword, turn R & follow #1 off

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