Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Big Apple: Art Event

1. Even though the shag is danced to music that is 4/4 time, how does the dancer count when they are dancing the shag?
When the dancer counts they are counting in sixes to the moderately tempo music.  The dance is a series of three steps and each step takes two counts.  During the dance, the upper body and hips are stable while the legs do kicks and fancy footwork.  The lead creates the steps and the followers steps either mirror the leads or mark time while the lead shows off their moves and spins. 

2. Discuss the Big Apple building. Discuss its features architectural feature of Columbia, and a brief history. What was the first name of the building?

Formally known as the House of Peace Synagogue, the Big Apple Dance Club served originally as a synagogue for the Jewish community in Columbia.  The very first synagogue, located on Assembly Street, was burned in the burning of Columbia in the civil war.  In 1896 the synagogue was rebuilt.  The new synagogue was destroyed in a fire in 1915 and the new synagogue was built at the site.  Once the community outgrew the place the building was then used for the African –American night club called the Big Apple Club.  The students from the University of South Carolina paid to watch from the balcony learned the dance steps from their watching.   

The building of the Big Apple is a two story wooden building.  The roof is in a metal gabled style.  The building was built for a congregation that was largely Polish and Russian immigrants the influence of the building was greatly Eastern Jewish styles.  The interior has a central recessed dome where they would hang lights.  There is a balcony on the inside on the front side of the building that was used as a place to view the dancing when it was a club.  The sides have pedimented gables with a rondelle.  The windows are stained glass that have horseshoe arches. 

3. Discuss the Shag. What is the history of the shag and what is its relevance to South Carolina
The origins of the Carolina Shag can be traced to the Big Band Era of the 1930’s and 40’s.  “Shag” is a broad term that denotes a number of swing dances originating in the 20th century.     There is some historians that suggest that the term “shagger” was used to refer to vaudeville performers in the late 19th century.  Also, there are some that say that the Carolina Shag is a descendent of the Carolina Jitterbug.   In the 1930s there were arguably a hundred or more variations of the dance varying depending on the geographic location in which they are done.  

The term “Carolina Shag” is believed to have originated between Myrtle Beach, SC and Wilmington, NC during the 1940s.  The shag is the state dance of South Carolina.  The style and development of the shag holds roots in the Carolinas which makes it a very important part of the state’s history and culture

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