A few months ago Tony Fraser and I, struck up an online conversation after I’d commented on one of his clips on YouTube. Since then, we’ve discovered that we have very similar backgrounds both in sport and IT. It was Tony’s idea to capitalise on our technical know how, and find some way he could share his lessons and workshops live the from the Dance Manhattan Studios, New York where he holds a regular Monday night Shag class.
Seemed like a great idea, regular, advanced level Collegiate shag lessons beamed directly to our living room. Technically, we had worked out what was needed for a trial and we were all set for the first, transatlantic, live, Collegiate Shag lesson (if you know of one before this then let me know). Oh the power of the internet, breaking down boundaries, bringing people together, pooling of resource, highlighting time zones! Whilst Tony’s Manhattan lesson started at at an amenable 19:00 EST, this translated to 00:00 GMT. Not great on UK school night.
So there we were kids in bed, ready to do a Shag lesson, at midnight on a Monday in May, on our living room carpet in Gwent, through a live link up with New York, with the Canadian Shag Champion.
I think I need to say that again because it sounds weird to me and I was there. So there we were, kids in bed, ready to do a Shag lesson, at midnight on a Monday in May, on our living room carpet in Gwent, through a live link up with New York, with the Canadian Shag Champion. Yep! Still sounds weird.
“Hello Wales”, Hello New York. A few brief introductions and we were off, with Sharon and I viewing, and participating in Tony and Jaime’s lesson streamed through my laptop onto my 34″ TV, and Tony watching us through his Apple mac screen. And I kid you not, it worked.
Admittedly Sharon and I struggled with the multi rhythm shag Tony enthuses as we are/were strictly double time; although we have been able to bring into our dance some of the weight change techniques and micro connections that Tony uses in Multi Rhythm. His technique and technical approach to Collegiate Shag dancing certainly pushes every boundary of traditional Double Time Shag.
Since that first lesson we’ve done two other live workshops in our living room. A “Connections Intensive” and a “Tricks for Shag” workshop, both of which we now use in our regular dancing. We found that the time difference made the midnight Monday night lesson unsustainable, but the weekend, daytime workshops that Tony occasionally does are easily accommodated; even with the time difference. We also ironed out some of the technical wrinkles from our first session mainly by Tony investing in new equipment which improved the uplink speeds.
Using technology in this way could be a real step forward for dancers who cannot easily attend more advanced classes or international workshops. The available technology still limits the number of students who can remotely attend a class; but if a group of dancers came together then there’s no reason why we couldn’t make it happen collectively.
Let me know if you’re interested in trying a future workshop with us. It wouldn’t be on our shag pile though; we’d get a room.