THE CAROLINA SHAG BASIC STEP
~ Beaufort Shag Club ~
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The Carolina Shag basic step is counted "One-And-Two, Three-And-Four, Five-Six". Each word corresponds to a step movement (eight words = eight steps). These eight steps are taken during six beats of the music. To stay "on beat" with the music, the "One-And-Two" or the "Three-And-Four" portion of the basic should take you the same "time" to complete as the "Five-Six" portion takes. In other words, the “One-And-Two” steps are done during or between two beats of music, the “Three-And-Four” steps are done between two beats of the music, and the “Five-Six” between two beats of the music. Normally we never move the same foot twice in a row. Each time you move or step, you do so with a different foot. Just like walking.
Before you try to learn the "basic", it will help you to do this drill. Stand in place and raise your heels approximately one half inch off the floor so that all your weight is on the balls of your feet. You will probably have to lean forward just slightly to keep your balance. This is the correct stance for dancing the shag. The shag is done with approximately 2/3 of your weight on the balls of the feet, and 1/3 on the heels. To get accustomed to this, try to do this drill with your heels off the floor and all the weight on the balls of your feet. Now, men starting with your left foot, ladies with your right foot, simply raise and lower alternating feet as you say the basic step out loud ("One-And-Two, Three-And-Four, Five-Six") without actually trying to do any forward or backward movements. It is very important that each time you say a word, a foot is stepping to the floor, i.e. when you say “One” the left foot (men) steps to the floor, when you say “And” the right foot steps to the floor, when you say “Two” the left foot steps to the floor, etc. To insure and to feel the weight change on each step, raise and lower each foot approximately 2 inches. It is very important that your body weight changes from one foot to the other foot on each step. This weight change on each step is essential to keep you from getting on the wrong foot/out of step.
Since this drill is not easy for everyone, have your partner watch to insure that a foot is stepping to the floor each time you say a word. The most common mistake is saying “one-and-two” but only moving the feet twice. If that happens, you are then on the wrong foot and out of step. Start off saying the words slowly. Insure that the proper foot is touching the floor exactly at the time you say the word (remember “and” is a word and requires a step). Gradually speed up the count until you are comfortable at a rapid pace. Remember that taking three steps for "one-and-two" takes the same amount of time as taking two steps for "five-six".
After you get very comfortable with this (it might take longer than you think), go ahead and begin to learn where to actually put your feet as you move them by following the step diagram. On the two, three and five steps, the front of the toe of the foot moving back should come to be even with the front of the heel of the other foot. In other words, on two, three and five, never take the toe of one foot past the heel of the other foot. Start off very slowly to insure that you have the proper foot position. It is important that you learn the proper foot positions for each move within the basic. Your dance movements will look much more fluid, balanced, and in rhythm if you take time to learn proper foot placements. When you are dancing, having your feet in the right spots during the "basic" will also make it easier for you to continue into your turns without having to first, correct your position.
There should be no bounce in your steps. The lower body (from the waist down) does most of the moving in the shag step. The upper body should remain generally erect without moving up and down and without swaying or turning from side to side and with no appreciable hip movement. The body does not keep time with the music, only the feet keep time with the music. Except in special steps, one’s waist is always the same distance from the floor. Do not let the upper body move up and down trying to keep time with the music.
While learning, it is essential to pick up your feet in order to make and to feel the weight change on each step. After you have become proficient at the basic step and no longer have a problem changing weight on each step, your feet can be kept very close to the floor which gives your dancing a nicer look.
Now that you have learned to dance primarily on the balls of your feet, there is one exception. On the five step, the weight lands on the ball of the foot and goes to the heel so that at least 50% of the weight is on the heel. At this point the body will be erect as opposed to slightly leaning forward. The five-six move is also called the rock step as the body rocks back (upright) on five and down on six allowing a smooth move back to one.
The man's left hand holds the woman's right hand. The knuckles of the lady’s right hand are across the middle finger of the man’s left hand. There should be some slight tension (sometimes referred to as “tone”) to provide a firm hold and resistance when the male "leads". But, the grip should never be tight. The forearms of the joined hands should always remain level with the floor, allowing the couple's motion toward and away from each other to be absorbed by elbow and shoulder joints. During the basic step, it should appear as if their joined hands are sitting on top of a post. The arms and hands should not sway from side to side, or move up and down.
Each person keeps the spare arm in a somewhat relaxed but slightly forward position. It should generally appear as if he or she had a drink in that hand that they did not want to spill. This gives a nice look as opposed to just letting that arm hang down by your side.
A word about shoes – if you have dance shoes with the special soles, that’s great. If not, make every effort to wear shoes with leather soles. It makes dancing much easier. Please do not wear flip flops or shoes with no attachment at the heal.
Have fun learning the Carolina Shag.
SC Code - 1&2,3&4,56: All those persons residing in the state of South Carolina shall know how to dance the Carolina Shag.
The Beaufort Shag Club firmly believes in sharing with others our love of the South Carolina State Dance - THE CAROLINA SHAG! We periodically have lessons to enhance the enjoyment of dancing and to share new steps with fellow members. All lessons taught by club instructors are free to members.
We normally don't do Beginner and Intermediate classes in the summer months. Beginner lessons will be offered in September, 2021. If you wish to learn before that time, contact Woody Oakley. 843 812 1825 / email@example.com
It is important to note that new members are not required to take lessons. If you already dance the shag or some similar dance, you are welcome to join us on the dance floor. If you wish to take lessons, they are available.
These consist of four (4) lessons spanning consecutive weeks. These lessons will be held at AMVETS on Ribaut Rd. typically from 6:00 - 6:45 PM To attend these lessons you must be a member of the club and pre-register by contacting the instructor. Priority is given to those members who have not taken the beginner class before. The classes are limited to the first 12 couples (includes single signups). Keeping the class size manageable allows for more individual instructor assistance.
These also consist of four lessons spanning consecutive weeks and also require preregistration. Classes typically teach Basic and Turn variations, the Pivot, the Bellyroll, the Boogie Walk, etc. One should be reasonably proficient at the basic and the male and female turns prior to taking the Intermediate classes.
We periodically ask some of our members to share a new step or line dance with the rest of the club. These special step lessons are announced in the weekly memo.
There is a small secondary dance floor at the back of the room for refresher assistance by other members or to just practice a new step.
For more information contact Woody Oakley firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-522-0555.