Shim Sham


Shim Sham

The Shim Sham Shimmy, Shim Sham or just Sham originally is a particular tap dance routine. It is credited to Leonard Reed, who originally called it Goofus, or to Willie Bryant. For swing dancers, today it is kind of line dance that recalls the roots of swing.

History

In the late 1920s and the 1930s, at the end of many performances, all of the musicians, singers, and dancers would get together on stage and do one last routine: the shim sham. Tap dancers would perform technical variations, while singers and musicians would shuffle along as they were able.

Variations

As a result of this conglomerate background, there is not one universal "shim sham" choreography - there are several variations. When a group of people do the Shim Sham (especially a group of people from different cities), their steps will be largely similar with some variation and even some improvisation. One particular routine is quite common, and can be learned by intermediate dancers in a social setting. There are at least alternative choreographies -- one developed by Frankie Manning, another by Al Minns and Leon James (also called the "Savoy Shim Sham"), and a third by Dean Collins.

Shim-Sham: A routine created by Leonard Reed and Willie Bryant in 1927 using four popular steps of the period: the Shim Sham, the Pushbeat and Crossover, the Tack Annie, and the Half Break. Originally called “Goofus” and done as a comedic farm dance to the song “Turkey in the Straw,” the dance was performed by Leonard Reed and Willie Bryant around the South while they were touring with the Whitman Sisters Troupe. The dance was then taken to the Shim Sham Club in New York where the farm theme was dropped and chorus girls were added to the dance. The chorus girls further varied the dance by shaking their shoulders while doing the first step, and soon the dance became known as the Shim Sham Shimmy. THE LEONARD REED SHIM SHAMS:
* The original Shim Sham from 1927 is a 32 bar chorus comprised of 4 steps and a break
* The Freeze Chorus, circa 1930’s. This dance is the same as the Shim Sham but without the breaks
* The Joe Louis Shuffle Shim Sham, 1948. This is a tap-swing dance 32 bar chorus number that Leonard Reed performed with the World Heavyweight Boxing champ Joe Louis
* The Shim Sham II, 1994. This dance is a 32 bar chorus dance based on the original Shim Sham
* The Revenge of the Shim Sham, 2002. This 32 bar chorus dance is Leonard Reed’s final Shim Sham, which builds elegantly upon his original four

The dance

The Shim Sham is 10 phrases of choreography (each phrase lasting four 8-counts), so it does not usually take up an entire song. After the Shim Sham, dancers typically grab a partner and break into lindy hop for the remainder of the song. During this portion of the song, the band or a DJ may call out "Freeze!" or "Slow!" instructing the dancers to either stop where they are or dance slowly, calling out "Dance!" to tell everyone to resumes normal dancing. The Shim Sham goes best with swing songs whose melody lines start on beat eight. An obvious choice is The Shim Sham Song (Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra), which was written specifically for this dance and has musical effects (e.g., breaks) in all the right places.

The steps

These are the steps of the original 32-bar Shim Sham:

tep 1: The shim sham

tep 3: Tack Annies

tep 4: Half breaks

External links

* [http://zootsuitswank.com/ShimSham.htm Shim Sham steps]
* [http://www.streetswing.com/histmain/z3shimsh.htm Shim Sham]
* [http://www.ocswing.com/pages/review.php The Shim Sham Step By Step by Shesha the swing dancer]


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