Steps & Moves

This page contains a table of "ingredients" that are the individual moves that make up a dance figure. In shag the first figure you learn is called the basic, then you learn other figures like crossover basic, female turn, sugarfoot ... This table is a local invention of a club member and systems analyst, so please accept that neither Jackie & Charlie nor Sam & Lisa will teach you to shag using it. When you buy their instructional DVD's you will find it useful in breaking down their figures into these ingredients, so that you understand and practice it in bite size chunks.

Dance Instructors

Instruction $$$

The Shag ~ A Recipe Perspective

When we learn to dance, we learn simple figures, the box in the waltz, the chasse in the foxtrot and the the basic in shag. The shag basic is made up from 8 individual steps or movements, to a 1&2, 3&4, 5,6 (QQS,QQS,SS) rythm. When you first learn the shag basic you learn the figure mainly by rote and repetition of the whole figure, but it is made up from 8 individual moves that can be thought of as the ingredients for a "shag basic" recipe.

The Ingredients for the Recipes

While a list of ingredients is not particularly useful to get you going in your first class, they become important as you as you go back and try and remember what you were taught a couple of days ago. Then, when you attempt more complex figures and especially as you work to give your dance style, careful examination of the individual moves helps.

Move Action Position ~ Intent
Forward Step forward Distance about 9"-12"
Close Feet side by side Body facing forward
Back Step back Distance about 9"-12"
In Place Step in place Weight transfer
Rock Back on heel Weight transfer back foot
Step Step & place Weight transfer front foot
Touch Toe to instep Maintain weight other foot
Kick Swing leg thru Control distance ~ 12"-15"
Lock Cross leg behind Toe behind heel
Cross Cross leg in-front Heel in-front of toe
Unwind Feet side by side Used to Unlock/Uncross
Chase Step to lead heel Toe to side of lead heel
Brush Swing foot thru Trailing heel to lead toe
Drag Feet together Slide foot, no leg lift
Sweep Cross without lift Slide foot in-front, point toe
Lift Lift leg slightly Lift small amount 3"-6"
Step Side Step to side Feet apart about 6"-9"
Half Left Diagonal Left Diagonally forward 12"-15"
Half Right Diagonal right Diagonally forward 12"-15"
Turn Out Quarter Turn Turning body out of slot
Turn Thru Quarter Turn Turn body cross slot
Step Rotate Forward & Turn Step while rotating body
Back Rotate Back & Turn Back while rotating body
Hook Lock & Rotate Rotate on hooked foot
Swivel Turn Feet 180 Swivel body with half turn
Step Swivel Step & Swivel Step forward, swivel back
Toe Touch Toes Touch toe to opposite toe
Heel Heel to Toe Touch heel to opposite toe

Big Deal! - so how do you use it?

Take the Basic and to the 1&2 / 3&4 / 5,6 timing substitute: Forward, Close, Back / Back, In Place, each foot / Rock, Step

If you look at the Step, Action, Position ~ Intent cells of the table, you will find you are doing a shag basic quite close to the way your instructor wants you to do it. We have not decided how far to push this concept. But we will probably try in a few weeks to tie an audio track and some instructional video clips to these ingredient names. So you may find a little later on when we demonstrate a Shag Pivot, the step chant of Triple Step / Hook Step / Triple Step / Rock, Step will be heard.

In reality the pivot starts on the man's left foot and adds the "Hook Step" to the basic 1&2, 3&4, Rock Step timing. The dancers move to closed position and then do a full 360 clockwisw (CW) turn, finishing, still in the closed or "dance" position.

Nothing has been said about leading which is the male's primary responsibility. Whether the dance is mirrored, side by side, or cross flow, the lead is where you men have to try and indicate your future dance intention to your partner. Much as you are planning later on getting her into ... more on the Lead