Bridges 09 Interactive Workshop: The Geometry of Longsword and Rapper Sword Locks

Susan Gerofsky
Proceedings of Bridges 2009: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2009)
Pages 383–384 Workshop Papers


This interactive 75-minute workshop is suitable for teachers, students, geometry enthusiasts, dancers, and parents and children participating in the conference. Working with two traditional English sword dancing teams from Vancouver (Tiddley Cove Morris & Sword Dancers and Steel Phoenix Rapper), we will explore the geometric constraints of longsword and rapper sword “locks” (friction-locked symmetric configurations of wooden and metal “swords”). The workshop will offer demonstrations of these traditional dances and locks, led by the two dance teams; then workshop participants will be encouraged to try building the locks by dancing them (with help from the professional dancers) and by building them with coffee stir sticks. The geometry of locks will be explored in terms of some knot theoretic principles (crossings, sticks), and in terms of star polygons, minimum/maximum angles, number of sticks, and “physical algorithms” for their production.