The dancers walk out single file and split off into two groups. When the music starts, it’s hypnotizing. The dancers synchronize their movements and dance as if they were looking into a mirror. It’s called the Carolina Shag, and it’s a dance craze that swept the world back in the 1940s. And it’s still going strong today.
These dancers look like professionals as they dance in unison, not only with their partners but as a whole group. The crazy thing is that this is the “Junior” Shag dance squad. If they’re this good, you wonder what the Senior group is like.
The Junior Shag Dance Team takes center stage at the USA Grand Nationals Dance Championships, and it’s mezmerizing. The showmanship and hard work these young dancer put into this performance is simply astounding.
It’s powerful to see how much effort, practice, and love have these kids have put in. Seems like if we could bottle that willpower we would create a lot more big beautiful things like this.
The JSDT’s website explains their goals to spread the Carolina Shag love globally.
“The Junior Shag Dance Team is a group of Carolina Shag Dancers who travel competing and performing all over the world to spread the dance they love while keeping its deep-rooted traditions and rich history alive.”
The JSDT is not just about expressing their love for the roots of Carolina Shag, but they win championships, too. And we’re talking worldwide.
“Aside from their sense of purpose and duty to their community, the kids can flat out boogie! Since 2008, the team has been 7-time US Open Formation Team Champions, 8-time USA Grand National Team Champions, the Australian Open Formation Team Champions and the French Open champions.”
They start out with a slow dance tune that expresses the sensual nature of the partnership dance. But it really gets up and going when the DJ flips the album and a fast-paced barn burner waves over the dance floor.
Springing from the hot sand in 1940s South Carolina, Shag Dancing is still popular today. Dancers all over the world enjoy syncing up with dance partners and doing the Shag.
Shag historian Phil Sawyer describes the Carolina Shag as,
“A cold beer on a warm night with a hot date and no plans for tomorrow.”
Southern Living, explains some of the intricacies of the dance.
“It should generally feel and look as if the partners are mirroring each other’s movements, completely in sync. The man leads with his left foot, the woman follows suit with her right foot, and so on. In the basic form, each partner is doing the same step, but with the opposite foot. Once you get more experienced, you’re able to have more fun with it and try faster, more complicated steps.”
The M.C. who introduces the Swag dance troop, is the living legend of swing dance himself, Robert Royston. He’s been at it since way before these kids were even born, but that’s not to say he can’t still keep up the best of them. He still is one of the best of them.
Robert was inducted into the National Swing Dance Hall of Fame in 2011. He holds a world championship title from the US Open World Swing Dance Championship.
Royston is not only a championship dancer, and a Hall of Famer, but he choreographs for Taylor Swift, and movies like “Gamer” and “Crank 2: High Voltage.” He’s choreographed major awards shows like the CMA’s and the ACM’s.
Royston says, “The thing I’m the proudest of when it comes to my swing career, is that tens of thousands of people have seen west coast swing because of projects I have created and produced spotlighting the dance and our dancers.”
YouTuber, Line Danzer, comments on how difficult it is to do what these kids are doing …
“I totally get that not only do they have to individually learn all of the choreography but they also have to learn the routine and perfect the synchronicity as a couple. In addition to that, each couple must be totally in sync with all the other couples on the floor.”
Click the video below to see what everyone is going gaga about. This slick performance is a true look at what hard work and practice can do. And when you put in a touch of love, as these fine folks do love Carolina Shag, then you have a recipe for something special.
Watch their wonderfully executed dance below!
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