Sword dancers Whip the Cat seek to defend world title

image copyrightWhip the Cat
image captionWhip the Cat perform at festivals and competitions across the country

An all-female sword dancing team aims to see off cut-throat competition as it defends its world title.

Rapper dancing involves using two-handled bending swords, and is traditionally associated with miners in the north east of England.

Whip the Cat, founded in Nottingham in 1999, sliced through the competition at last year's Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT).

It hopes to repeat last year's success in Newcastle next month.

image captionWhip the Cat's distinctive uniforms will be out in competitive action in Newcastle next month

Whip the Cat holds a weekly practice session in the Rose and Crown in Nottingham, with monthly weekend sessions held for team members travelling long distances.

As well as winning the Premier event at the 2018 competition in Sheffield, it also picked up prizes in a number of other categories, including the Veterans team, where the five-strong side must have a combined age of at least 250.

Though rapper dancing originates from Northumberland, teams from China, Denmark and the United States have competed at DERT in the past.

image captionLinda Sullivan was a founding member of Whip the Cat when it formed in 1999

Founder member and secretary Linda Sullivan, from Nottingham, said the members were "blown away" by their success.

She said: "There weren't many women's teams when we set it up in 1999, so we were in the minority.

"At first it took a while to get good - it took a few years, [and] when our daughters started dancing with us that brought a new energy."

Wilson Walker, 58, also from Nottingham, became Whip the Cat's band leader after bumping into them at a festival about 15 years ago.

"Some of the bar staff can be worried about it, health and safety and that sort of thing, and if you mention swords they can get worried, but when most people see it they usually like it," he said.

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