Want to modernize a style of dance or put your own twist on it? Go for it! Want to engage in a particular dance but don’t want to wear the traditional attire you’re supposed to or move to the original song? That’s okay, too. Nobody will bat an eye because, well, dance is art, and art isn’t stagnant. It can be altered, combined with different styles, or even made to fit the current era. Or, one can stick to the traditional route.
The Junior Shag Dance Team is one group that aims to preserve an older dance that may otherwise eventually be lost: the Carolina Shag. The non-profit dance group that was born July 2008 teaches youngsters all there is to know about engaging in the quick dance and then having them perform during various dance competitions.
One of their most recent performances was at the 2019 US Open Swing Dance Championships that took place late last year.
At the competition, the dance team composed of 14 individuals aged 12 to 17 appeared on stage in hot pink jumpsuits (the girls) and black suits with black vests (the boys).
In their modest attire, the group did the shag to Rickie Lee Jones’s “Danny’s All-Star Joint.”
They first walk out in boy-girl order, shoulder-to-shoulder, one couple behind the other. Then when it’s their cue, the young dancers do a little London Bridges-inspired move as a group before each individual couple joins hands to synchronically engage in the step dance.
About mid-way through the show, the group lines up facing the audience. They all link together as they kick their legs and step to the beat of the music. When they all drop to the floor at the same time before getting back up with a little zig-zag move of their legs, the crowd roars!
Throughout the remainder of the dance performance, the Junior Shag Dance Team continues to beautifully alternate from partner to group dancing. The team ends their routine with the seven partners individually dancing. After a few spins, all 14 dancers end up on their knees before the audience busts out with claps and cheers. Due to how loved the performance was, the Junior Shag Dance Team were named the champions!
But winning a competition is only part of the fun. Founder Brennar Goree knows just how important it is to keep the Carolina Shag alive.
According to the organization’s website, “[Our dance team] highlights a dance most viewers at home will have never even seen or heard of…Carolina Shag is a dance founded in the 50s on a beach somewhere close to the Carolina Grand Strand…at its core, it is a family-oriented community with dancers ranging from 4 to 94 with an emphasis on supporting the youth, while paying the utmost respect to the Hall of Fame elders that founded our great dance.”
Living on the west coast, I can tell you that I’ve never heard of the dance until I found the video of the team’s routine! It was a pleasure to watch the great group of teens put on a fabulous show.