Friday, July 11, 2008

fun with collegiate shag

i don't think anyone here had even tried to lead collegiate shag when dancing with me prior to last weekend.

and now... tah-dah! we have not one, not two, but FOUR different basic steps present in the hampton roads area!

those of us who went down to sugar foot stomp last weekend learned the two basics that joel and alison presented:

joel and alison single shag = quick-quick-slow, quick-quick slow (or L-R-L-L, R-L-R-R lead footwork, if you will.)

joel and alison double shag = slow-slow-quick-quick (L-L-R-R-L-R)

tuesday, i went down to the virginia beach lesson, where they were teaching a single shag, only starting on the slows... not much different, it just changes where the ones are.

jeff and amanda single shag = slow-quick-quick, slow-quick-quick (L-L-R-L, R-R-L-R)

in williamsburg last night, they had a slightly different double shag... the footwork was the same as joel and alison's, but started on 8 instead of one.

mike double shag = ow-slow-quick-quick-sl (L-R-R-L-R-L)

so i'm totally pumped to have so much shagging, but it's a little crazy. today i did some reading up on the dancehistory.org board. our first three basics, anyway, are all pretty common. among the cool things i found out, shag goes back further in the south than it does in the northeast, probably in the form of single shag. one of the earliest references that peter loggins cites is actually from virginia beach, so i might be in the right place to do some local research this time. during WWII, southerners were exposed to double shag and referred to it as "yankee shag". and yes, there were all kinds of local variations, but most people didn't switch basics constantly mid-song... which makes me feel a little better, since i was having a really hard time following people who switched back and forth at sugar foot stomp!

also, i really want to try triple shag -- slow-slow-quick-quick-slow, slow-slow-quick-quick-slow -- but i think it might make my brain explode.

and, um, for all of you who were thoroughly bored reading about shag... have some to watch?

4 comments:

Breanna said...

I love shag!

Lamar said...

Hi Kait,

I saw your post on a google search of shag. I enjoyed your post and I have been playing with different rhythms of shag lately. In particular, leading different rhythms in one dance. I took a private from Jeremy Otth and Laura Keat on this very subject. They started me off by leading different rhythms with the pendulum kicks. These are easier to start off with cause the guy can lead them by moving his body back and forth. The key is for the guy to lead the quick, quicks all the time. If the lead just relies on the follow to use the double rhythm footwork, then when he tries to change then it will mess the follow up. Using this principle I could lead the pendulum kicks in closed position in single double or triple time. I can also alter the rhythm with side by side open position kicks. single kick out, double kick in, or any variation. The trick here is for the lead to use his right arm around the follow very clearly. In order to guarantee the lead and not just suggest it, the lead must very strongly put her weight on one side or the other and not allow her off of it or she will go back to double rhythm.

Otherwise it is easier to transition from single or triple time to double time, because the lead can do a definite restart jump to the side on one for a double rhythm basic. It is harder to transition from double to single or trip. Historically they were not mixed, but some dancers are starting to with success using the methods I describe above. Also the lead can verbally call a transition to single or triple time. Further, I have had some success transitioning from a double to a single time basic. The trick here is for the lead to jump forward on the firsat slow instead of to the side. This should give some clue to the follow thatthe lead is doing a box step. Thus, the follow will usually catch on by at least the second single time basic on account of the boxstep footwork.

Anyway, I think adding these rhythm changes will make the dance more lead follow and add to the micro musicality of the dance. OK, this was rather detailed but I hope it was helpful.

Thanks,
David Lee (DC)

kait said...

hey david, thanks for stopping by!!

and thanks for the explanation. i bet from the follow perspective, it's a lot to do with familiarity, too... i get to dance collegiate shag infrequently enough that it still involves a little too much concentration on the basic, which makes me a lot less open to quickly figuring out what new is being led.

seems like you've got a group in d.c. that's very much into collegiate shag--the performance group looks great! hoping it'll make its way down here more!

Lamar said...

Yeah I here you. Even in DC there are either not enough shag dancers at one dance or the music is way too slow. When I do get a faster song I have to choose between balboa and shag. Chelsea an I learned it by using the Marcus and Barbl DVDs. They are helpful and fairly comprehensive. Perhaps you can train up one good lead.

Thanks for the compliment on our shag group. I would like to get them together to go to the Ottawa Shag Explosion in Ottawa in January. Yes it will be cold, but all that shagging will keep us warm.