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Rapper Figures

Here are descriptions of some good rapper figures, with links to dances in which they appear.

Click on a figure title in the index column to see its description.

To print a figure (or any other page) without all the page headers, click the "Print" link at the top right.

Arches
Basic Idea: Each dancer takes a turn in the middle under the arches
The sequence
  • #5 to center while #4 steps right to close gap; #2 and #3 adjust right to form an X
  • #4 to center while #1 steps left to close gap and #5 backs out to replace #1
  • #3 to center while #1&5 step left to close gap and #4 backs out to replace #5
  • #2 to center while #1&5&4 step left to close gap and #3 backs out to replace #4
    
          3   2     3   2     1   2     5   1
            5         4         3         2
          4   1     1   5     5   4     4   3
                        
  • #2 backs out between #1 and #3; all adjust to nut position and make the nut
Timing
  • Swords go up on beat 1
  • Feet go “step, STEP, stepity STEP, stepity stepity stepity STEP”
  • A new person goes in every 8 beats
  • Move to the next formation crisply in two beats (start on 8, land on 2)
  • Make the nut on beat 4; swords come down as #2 steps back
Styling
  • Arms high, handles vertical to make beautiful curved arches
  • Line up the X—center person should directly face left rear person, and outside people should see center person directly between themselves and opposite person
Breastplate

Basic Idea: Display a lovely pattern of swords in front of #3
Details
  • Orientation:
           4   2
         1   3   5
                        
  • Getting into it:
    • #1 and #5 slide (don't cast) to the back and cross (#1 going between #3 and #5) to stand on either side of #3
    • #2 cast and #4 slide to the back and stand side-by-side behind #3
    • #3 step to the front and smile
    • Swords come down smartly in front of #3 on beat 8
    • Rotate the set 90 degrees to face each direction
    • Feet go "step, step, step, STEP, stepity stepity stepity STEP"
  • Getting out of it into the nut:
    • Swords go up on beat 1 (#3 push both hands out to save nose)
    • #3 step forward and turn left
    • #1 and #5 cross to the rear (#1 inside #5) and turn left
    • #2 and #4 slide toward the front and face in
Styling
  • Swords should be neatly aligned and slightly bowed
  • #2 and #4 each hold both sword handles together over #3's shoulder
  • #3 can hook thumbs over sword at belt-level to keep everything lined up
  • Swivel the set with dispatch—move directly to next orientation and then step crisply
Appears In: Mendocino 2001
Crullers
Basic Idea: Zip Zap Scoops Jumps Nuts Lines Rings
Details
  • Scoop through to a brief nut
    • From open ring, #2 heads toward the gap between #4 and #5 as they head to either side of #2.
    • #2 scoops both swords as #4 and #5 leap over (take off on beat 1, land on beat 2).
    • All except #3 do a lightning pivot over left shoulder, click swords together on beat 3 and make a (flat!) nut on beat 4.
  • Break the nut to a line
    • Break the nut on beat 5
    • Swords go up on beat 6 as #3, #2, #1 turn right to face out of the set as #4 and #5 come over #2
    • Swords come down on beat 8 to form a line (1-5-2-4-3) facing right
  • Back scoop to open ring
    • #2 back scoops both swords as #1, #2, #3 back up to original places; #4 and #5 leap over (take off on beat 1, land on beat 2) and head forward, turning over right shoulder to original places.
    • All step for 4 beats in original open ring
  • Repeat everything in the opposite direction:
    • #4 scoops between #1 and #2
    • #5, #4, #3 turn right to face out of the set as #1 and #2 come over #4
    • Form a line (5-1-4-2-3) facing left
    • #4 back scoops as #3, #4, #5 back up to original places; #1 and #2 leap over and turn over right shoulder to original places.
  • Repeat just initial bit to form nut, but with #3 scooping between #1 and #5.
Styling
  • Keep rings round, lines straight, swords arced
  • Move all together at precise times with the count
Curly
Basic Idea: Two adjacent mirror-image moving rings
Details
  • From coach and horses, #1 casts left followed by #2 and #3, while #5 casts right followed by #4
  • Continue around in adjacent rings (#123 in one, #45 in the other)
Styling
  • Keep the two rings of the Curly very tight and close together, shoulders can touch
  • Swords arching around should swoop beautifully and not be flat
  • Drive forward, don't let it look static
Split Curly
Basic Idea: Two adjacent mirror-image moving rings, from a nut
Details
  • From nut, all start moving. #5 spins in place over right shoulder. #1 waits briefly for #5, then they head side-by-side up the middle. #2 takes a step out and back, then follows #1. #3 slides right to the back and follows #2. #4 cast out and back, spinning over right shoulder (can roll against #5) and then following #5.
  • Continue around in adjacent rings (#1-2-3 in one, #4-5 in the other)
Styling
  • Keep the two rings of the Curly very tight and close together, shoulders can touch
  • Swords arching around should swoop beautifully and not be flat.
  • #1/#5 sword makes a beautiful down and forward scoop as #5 completes initial spin.
  • Drive forward, don't let it look static
Double Hey
Basic Idea: Pairs weave a hey for three
Details
  • #3, followed by fool, cross through middle of set between #2 and #4 and cast left
  • #1, followed by #2, move toward fool, then cross through middle of set (once fool has passed) and cast right
  • #5, followed by #4, move toward #3, then cross through middle of set (once #2 has passed) and cast left
  • Continue, crossing in same sequence each time
Styling
  • Smooth drive
Appears In: Pinewoods 2009
Figure 8
Basic Idea: All fly on a tight figure 8 path while swords grind away
Details
  • From nut, cross to the other side while moving back to front (#1 then #5, #2, #4, #3)
  • Continue, crossing in same sequence each time
Styling
  • Keep everything tight and close together:
  • Lead with right shoulder when crossing right; left shoulder when crossing left
  • After casting, face set while moving to rear
  • Keep the swords high and hands strongly vertical; don't duck
  • Drive forward, don't let it look static
Five Corners

Basic Idea
  • Flatten the ring to a line of 5 in each direction, with swords displayed in front of line
  • Each dancer in turn becomes the center post of the line
  • 5 phrases, each with 4 beats of moving and then 4 beats of stepping
Details
  • Start as if making a nut—#1 & #2 cast, #4 & #5 slide
  • #3 move forward and face up
  • Specifically:
    • #1 and #5 come over #3 (2-1-3-5-4 facing up), then
    • #5 and #4 come over #2 (1-5-2-4-3 facing left) , then
    • #4 and #3 come over #1 (5-4-1-3-2 facing down) , then
    • #3 and #2 come over #5 (4-3-5-2-1 facing right) , then
    • #2 and #1 come over #4 (3-2-4-1-5 facing up)
  • In general:
    • Left-hand person in line becomes new post—head directly for center of line (they'll get out of your way) while spinning 3/4 to the right.
    • Center and left-center people become new ends
    • Right two people become new middles
    • Your "shadow" is always in the position you will occupy next. For example, #2 can can watch #3—whatever position #3 has in the current line is the position that #2 will have in the upcoming line.
    • Feet go "step, step, step, STEP, stepity stepity stepity STEP"
    • End with a nut
Styling
  • Swords shoot up on beat 1, come snapping down on beat 4
  • Give the swords a nice arch when up—no limp flat swords
  • Move with dispatch, hitting the lines on beat 4
Single Flip
Basic Idea: A death-defying back flip
Details
  • From open ring, #1 and #5 scoop sword under #3
  • Set is now a staggered (wavy) line (2-1-3-5-4); #1/#5 sword is behind #3
  • #3 puts hands on #1/#5 shoulders and back flips over #1/#5 sword
  • All go forward, #3 scoops #1 and #5, all but #2 turn left; make nut on beat 8
Styling
  • Looks best if #3 lands on feet rather than head
Double Flip

Basic Idea: Double dancers defy death
Details
  • Set is a staggered (wavy) line (5-4-1-3-2); #3/#4 sword is behind #1’s neck
  • #4 puts hands on #1/#5 shoulders and back flips over #1/#5 sword while #3 puts hands on #1/#2 shoulders and back flips over #1/#2 sword
  • All go forward, #3/#4 scoop #1, all but #2 turn left; make nut
Styling
  • #3 and #4 take off, flip, and land together
Appears In: Mendocino 2001
Flying Pixies
Basic Idea: Everyone spins in opposite directions while moving to adjacent spots
Details
  • From guard position, #2 and #4 turn in, spinning in place (#2 right and #4 left), ending with swords crossed slightly awkwardly.
  • All raise both swords and move to adjacent spot (#1 moves to #2’s spot; #2 moves to #3’s spot, etc) in 3 steps while spinning one full rotation; #1 and #5 turn in, #2 and #4 turn out, #3 turn left.
  • Step for 4 beats in new guard positions
  • Repeat 4 times, moving to each adjacent spot in turn and alternating direction of spin (except that you spin left twice in a row as you reach positions #3 and #4)
  • When everyone is home, raise swords once more, #2 and #4 spin in place turning out, and all face right in a ring
Styling
  • Swords move sharply up on beat 1 and sharply down on beat 4
  • Spin completely in 3 steps so each guard formation is precisely aligned
  • Crisp stepping in place
Follow We
Basic Idea: Dancers migrate individually between adjacent moving rings
Details
  • Ring round clockwise
  • When approaching the front, #1 turns left to walk in an adjacent counterclockwise ring while everyone else continues in the clockwise ring
  • When approaching the front in the next rotation, #2 joins the other ring following #1
  • In each successive rotation, one additional dancer joins the adjacent ring
  • In the 6 rotations of the rings, dancers must raise sword hands as follows:
      1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
    #1: LR L L L
    #2: L R
    #3: L R
    #4: L R
    #5: R R R LR

    So for example, during the third rotation, #1 and #3 have their left hand swords raised while #2 and #5 have their right hand swords raised.

  • Repeat everything to re-form initial ring
Styling
  • Keep the circles moving smoothly
  • Swords move up and down together
Appears In: Pinewoods 2005
Granny Knot
Basic Idea: 3 snappy stages to a nut, each with 4 beats moving and 4 stepping
Details
  • Starts in "face up" ("guard", "coach and horses") position
  • First: #1 and #5 cast to the bottom and face up (then all step 4 beats)
  • Second: #2 and #4 cast to the bottom and face up while #1 and #5 move between them and #3 (under the swords) and face down (#1/#5 sword now curves behind #3's back) (then all step 4 beats)
  • Third: all step forward, and all but #2 turn left; make nut on beat 4
  • Rose on beat 5
  • Note that nobody steps on beats 1-4, even if stationary (feet go "step, step, step, STEP, stepity stepity stepity STEP")
Styling
  • Moving is purposeful and snappy, be there on beat 4
  • Stepping is crisp and contrasts with the moving
  • Swords make beautiful static arches while stepping, especially after second phrase
In & Out
Basic Idea: Instant transformation back and forth between nut and facing-out ring
Details
  • Break nut on beat 1. All turn right and step outward onto right foot on beat 2 while bringing right-hand sword over head, forming a big open ring facing out.
  • Step for the remainder of the phrase—feet go "step, STEP, stepity STEP, stepity stepity stepity STEP"
  • All turn left and step inward onto left foot, bringing right-hand sword over your head. On beat 1, land on your left foot facing in and clicking your right sword on your left.
  • Make the nut on beat 2 and the rose on beat 3.
  • Step for the remainder of the phrase—feet go "step, STEP, stepity STEP, stepity stepity stepity STEP"
  • Repeat all that twice more.
Styling
  • All moves snappy. Make the stepping good.
  • When facing out, make sure the swords are nicely bowed.
Single Jump Rope
Basic Idea: Jumps and scoops
Details
  • #2/#3 scoop under #5, who jumps on beat 3
  • #1/#4 do a slow "windmill spin" out (#1 left, #4 right)
  • #4/#5/#1 back scoop under #2/#3, who jump on beat 7
  • Repeat, double time:
  • Timing:
    #2&3:1-2-scoop-4,5-6-jump-8;1-2-scoop-4,jump-6-scoop-8
    #1&4:1-2-scoop-4,5-6-7-8;1-2-scoop-4,5-6-scoop-8
    #5:1-2-jump-4,5-6-scoop-8;1-2-jump-4,scoop-6-jump-8
Styling
  • Swords make big smooth rotary motions, not jerky
  • Swords are beautifully curved throughout
Double Jump Rope
Basic Idea: More jumps and scoops
Details
  • #1 scoops under #3/#4, who jump on beat 3
  • #2/#5 do a slow "windmill spin" out (#2 right, #5 left)
  • #3/#4 back scoop under #1, who jumps on beat 7
  • Repeat, double time
  • Timing:
    #1:1-2-scoop-4,5-6-jump-8;1-2-scoop-4,jump-6-scoop-8
    #2&5:1-2-scoop-4,5-6-7-8;1-2-scoop-4,5-6-scoop-8
    #3&4:1-2-jump-4,5-6-scoop-8;1-2-jump-4,scoop-6-jump-8
Styling
  • Swords make big smooth rotary motions, not jerky
  • Swords are beautifully curved throughout
Appears In: Mendocino 2001
Maryann
Basic Idea: Swirl and grind around stationary #3
Details
  • #3 move to front and step in place, while
  • #1 followed by #2 cast left; #5 followed by #4 cast right
  • Each pair circles #3 twice, passing right shoulders (#1 inside) twice the first time and left shoulders (#1 outside) twice the second time
  • At front, both pairs do small loops (same direction as large loops)
Styling
  • #1 keep left sword high, right sword over shoulder; #2 push left fist into #1's back and keep it there, while right sword is high and not slicing #3's knuckles
  • Likewise, #5 keep right sword high, left sword over shoulder; #4 push right fist into #5's back and keep it there, while left sword is high and not slicing #3's knuckles
  • #3 smile and step beautifully; stay centered as hands above get pulled forward and back
  • #1 and #5 stay together (mirror image) in the small loops, likewise #2 and #4
Nut, Rose
Basic Idea: Lock the swords together and show them high
Details
  • Make the nut on an even beat (preferably 4 or 8 but 2 or 6 if you need to)
  • Push the swords in with dispatch but not forcefully, at waist level, with left hand slightly up and right hand slightly down
  • Make the rose on the next odd beat—it should fly up effortlessly, with everyone taking a half step in and all arms going immediately up
  • It should never be difficult to hold the rose up; if it is, you need to step in and/or raise your arms higher
  • The height of the rose is determined by the shortest person, who should have just a slight bend in their arms with shoulders down
  • Break the rose on beat 1 (some prefer beat 8)
Dances: All
Ornetti Lock
Basic Idea: Beautiful lock of two concentric triangles
Details
  • Note: this requires an earlier surreptitious "Ornetti Grab" (diagram C) as described in Pinewoods 2009.
  • #1/3/4 cross right over left to make the inner triangle (see diagram E).
  • #2/5/F reach left to neighbor’s “V”, tying swords as shown in diagram F.
  • #1 displays the lock (perhaps tightening it first) to wild cheering!
  • Clamshell—Fool and #3 slide left outside to trade places with # 4 and #5, who slide right inside (see diagram G).
  • #1 turns the lock over and lowers it, with a pair of fixed handles roughly in front and a pair of swivel handles to the right.
  • Normalizer Grab—All take nearest swivel with right hand, then reach over with left to take nearest fixed handle (see diagram H).
Styling
  • With practice you’ll be able to make (and break) the lock quickly and tightly
  • #1 display the lock like you mean it—arm held high
Appears In: Pinewoods 2009
Out-In Opening
Basic Idea: Slam bang start
Details
  • All face out of ring in inverted position (1-2-3-4-5 clockwise), sword on shoulder
  • Set is oriented so #3 faces the audience
  • Link swords quietly at agreed point in calling-on song. Look at the hand you're placing your sword into, not the sword being placed into your hand!
  • Turn left and step inward onto left foot to face in on beat 1 as your (right-hand) sword comes over your head
  • Make the (flat!) nut on beat 2
  • #1 displays the nut on beat 4
  • Feet go "step, STEP, stepity STEP, stepity stepity stepity STEP"
Styling
  • Big surprise that the nut can be made and displayed so fast
  • All moves snappy (make nut, display it, rose, break)
  • Make the stepping shine, you're still fresh!
Popcorn (for 6)
Basic Idea: Jumps and scoops in concentric 3-person rings
Details
  • #2/5/F back-scoop under #1/3/4, who jump on beat 3
  • #1/3/4 back-scoop under #2/5/F, who jump on beat 7
  • Three more scoops, double-time, so the whole timing is:
  • #2/5/F:1-2-scoop-4,5-6-jump-8;1-2-scoop-4,jump-6-scoop-8
    #1/3/4:1-2-jump-4,5-6-scoop-8;1-2-jump-4,scoop-6-jump-8
Styling
  • Swords make big smooth rotary motions
  • Double-footed jumps, straight up and down
Appears In: Pinewoods 2009
Prince of Wales
Basic Idea: A zippy 5-person basket swing
Details
  • #1 displays the lock (like you mean it—arm held high), then lowers it upside-down on beat 8
  • To get the correct swords, cross your hands at your waist with the right wrist across the left; right hand gets the swivel handle and left hand gets the fixed handle
  • Raise swords over and around the back of your neighbor
  • Move to your left to spin the basket; left foot moves left on odd beats, right foot crosses over on even beats. Use the correct feet!!
  • Stop spinning on beat 8, raise swords back over and remake the lock on beat 4
  • #1 displays the lock (make ‘em cheer!), then lowers it back in "normal" orientation
  • To get the correct swords, right hand first grabs swivel handle then left hand reaches left to grab fixed handle
  • End with a rose
Styling
  • The ring can really fly
  • Don't consciously lean out or in; focus instead on really MOVING sideways—centrifugal force will ease your weight back into the swords
Rolls
Basic Idea: 4 dancers ring round while 5th stands out, doing a periodic "roll" spin
Details
  • Swords go up after breaking nut, and move to right shoulder, except
  • #5 leaves swords raised (and rolls immediately—see below) while #4,3,2,1 ring clockwise underneath
  • Don't invert the set—#4,3,2,1 just start moving clockwise
  • As #1 approaches, #5 scoops right hand sword with #1 down, around, and up, while turning left half way to face out of the set
  • Then #5 immediately scoops left hand sword with #4 down, around, and up, while turning left half way to face back into the set
  • 4 revolutions; #5 doesn't roll the last time and the nut is easily re-formed
Styling
  • Drive the ring around
  • #5 swoops swords gracefully one after the other as #1 and #4 go by
Scoops (version 1)
Basic Idea: Stately double scoops and jumps
Details
  • #1 scoops #3 and #4:
    • #1 and #3/#4 approach each other, flattening the ring to a line in 2 steps.
    • #1 scoops swords on beat 3 as #3 and #4 jump over (both feet) landing on beat 4 (still in a line); all step for 4 beats.
    • Feet go “step, step, jump, LAND, stepity stepity stepity STEP”
    • #1 back-scoops swords on beat 3 as #3 and #4 jump over (both feet) landing on beat 4 (still in a line); all back up to original ring.
    • Feet go “step, step, jump, LAND, step step step STEP”
  • #5 scoops #2 and #3 similarly
  • #3 scoops #1 and #5 similarly, but instead of the back scoop all turn left to make a nut.
Styling
  • Scoopers make beautiful arcs with the swords
  • Scrape the swords on the ground for dramatic effect (sparks on some surfaces!)
  • Jumpers jump straight up and down, lifting both feet
Scoops (version 2)
Basic Idea: Invert the big ring three times using double scoops
Details
  • #4 scoops #1 and #2 to invert the set
    • #4 heads for the gap between #1 and #2 while they head toward him/her
    • #4 scoops both swords on beat 1 as #1 and #2 leap over, landing on beat 2
    • All continue forward to face out in a big ring on beat 4
    • Feet go "step, SCOOP, step, STEP, stepity stepity stepity STEP"
  • #5 back-scoops #2 and #3 to re-form the open ring
  • #4 scoops #1 and #2 to invert the set again
  • All turn left and step inward onto left foot to face in on beat 1 as sword comes over your head; make the nut on beat 2
Styling
  • Before scooping, #4 arcs both swords quietly up and back on beat 8 and then moves them smoothly around and down for the scoop
  • Scrape the swords on the ground for dramatic effect (sparks on some surfaces!)
  • Move smartly across the set and re-form a big round open ring crisply on beat 4
Appears In: Pinewoods 2009
Slide
Basic Idea: Dancers slide around moving ring every four beats
Details
  • On beat 1, #1 raises swords and pulls right shoulder back, stepping slightly out and back to face the set, and slides counter-clockwise around the ring, returning to place behind #5 as the ring continues rotating
  • #2, #3, #4, #5 follow on beats 5, 1, 5, 1
  • All are once again driving clockwise, but now with swords crossed
  • When #1 is near the top, all walk a 4-beat arc left and outward to form an open ring, ending on beat 4 or 8 so #1 and #5 have their backs to the audience
Styling
  • Slide around the ring briskly with arms raised and chest practically grazing the set
  • People in the ring quickly close space vacated by sliding dancer
  • Stay together in the arc so the ring expands steadily
  • Make the ring big and round; dancers’ arms are almost fully extended; swords are bowed
Snake Break
Basic Idea: Break a nut by snaking to a moving ring
Details
  • From nut, #1 cast over right shoulder, head clockwise; #5 stay put
  • #2 (then #3 then #4) go under #1/#5 sword, turn right to follow #1
  • All are now driving clockwise
Styling
  • #1's cast grows smoothly out of breaking the rose
  • Don't duck!
Appears In: Pinewoods 2009
Stripes

Basic Idea: Display a horizontal stack of swords in front of #3
Details
  • Orientation:
           5   4
         2   3   1
                        
  • Getting in to it—#3 steps forward while #2, #4, and #5 rotate one position in their triangle; then lower swords in front of #3
    • #1 just face up, at left front (hands together near top of stack)
    • #2 move to right front, behind #3 & in front of others (hands together below #5's)
    • #3 take a step forward, to front (right hand bottom, left hand 1 up from bottom)
    • #4 slide left behind #2 and #3 to left rear (top and bottom hand)
    • #5 Slide behind all, to right rear (hands together on top of stack)
    • Rotate the set 90 degrees to face each direction
    • Feet go "step, step, step, STEP, stepity stepity stepity STEP"
  • Getting out of it into the nut
    • #3 step forward and turn left
    • #2 and #4 trade places (more or less) and turn left
    • #1 spin left (quick cast) to rear
    • #5 smile and look cute
Styling
  • Line up the hands and take care that the swords look really even—beautiful stripes in front of #3
  • Swivel the set with dispatch—move directly to next orientation and then step crisply
Appears In: Mendocino 2001