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Austin Powers may have brought the word into today's popular vocabulary, but it's Old Dominion University seniors Erin Olson and Jac Crowder who really give the word its unique meaning here in the States.

Olson, a 22-year-old English major from Yorktown, Va., and Crowder, a 21-year-old information systems major from Richmond, Va., took first place in the non-pro division at this year's National Shag Dance Championships held March 8-10 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., taking home $1,000 and a trophy.

The dancers made it through two cuts, narrowing the field from 20 to 12 couples during the preliminary competition in January, and finally from 12 to four couples in the three-day competition. More than 75 couples competed in the competition's 12 divisions.

Their win makes them the first couple in the history of Virginia shag clubs to take home a national title. As co-founders of the Old Dominion Shag Club, Olson and Crowder are committed to teaching the popular beach swing-dance to other young people. They often give private lessons through the Virginia Beach and Richmond shag clubs, as well as to interested students at Old Dominion.

Shag is a type of swing dance popular in the South, particularly in South Carolina where it's the state dance. The dance is performed to classic beach and rhythm and blues music.

A competitive shag dancer since 1991, Crowder met Olson, a longtime ballet dancer, in the fall of 1998. The two soon began dancing together in shag competitions, winning their first title at the Beach Music Festival in January 2000. The recent competition was the first the couple has competed in at the national level.

The non-pro division placed them in competition with other dancers over the age of 21 who had not won more than two national titles or three Competitive Shaggers Association/Shag Preservation Association (CSA/SPA) competitions. Olson and Crowder plan to compete in the same cateogry in next year's event. Should they take home the first-place title again, the two would move into the professional shag dancers division.

The Old Dominion Shag Club meets at 8 p.m. every Thursday in the Powhatan II Community Room on the Old Dominion campus. For more information, e-mail JacShaggin1@aol.com.

This article was posted on: March 21, 2001

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