by Jackson Bicknell, staff writer
“If you aren’t sure if what you are doing is swing dancing, just come back to the rock step and I would call it swing dancing,” said Elias Hinderberger. The rock step in a most basic explanation is a simple transfer of weight from one foot to the other and then back to the original foot in swing dance.
Hinderberger makes it look easy, but it isn’t. As an effort to bring swing dance to the college, he has held many practices on Fridays at 8 p.m. in Bryson gym.
“I want to build the Asheville swing scene by bringing it to Wilson,” said Hinderberger.
Although the Asheville swing scene is small, there are opportunities to swing to live music four times a week. Although the ideal music to accompany swing would most likely be a live band playing vintage jazz.
“You can pretty much swing dance to anything,” says Elias, “even punk music. I mean what dance is at its most basic interpretation is listening, moving to music and then becoming addicted to its funny concept.”
Hinderberger is currently holding private practices for two professors at the college: Christey Carwhile and David Moore, who have been dance partners for over a year now.
“We reached a point where we wanted to learn more,” said Carwhile.
Hinderberger and his classmates threw a fundraiser last semester for Art Space Charter School in Black Mountain. The event wasn’t centered around dancing, but as Hinderberger points out, “that is all I want to do on a Friday night.”
Moore, who attended the event saw Hinderberger dancing and decided to approach him.
“I enjoyed his style and obvious love of dancing so I asked him if he ever gave lessons,” said Moore.
Carwhile and Moore practice swing dance twice a week: once with Hinderberger and once by themselves.
“The best teachers should be ridiculously passionate about what they teach, and that is Elias,” said Carwhile.
Hinderberger, from observing a private lesson, pays attention to every detail of the dance. His hypersensitivity to hand placement, footwork, partner tension is crucial to creating the perfect swing out.
“We have gotten to the point where our swing time is sacred time. We try not to schedule any other meetings during that time and we take it seriously,” said Carwhile.
“I get a real sense of fulfilment when I can see they are practicing my moves outside of class,” says Hinderberger, “and that is satisfying.”
Sophie, Hinderberger’s older sister, began Lindy Hopping at the Mob Town Ballroom in Baltimore.
“She is the biggest reason I went to the mobtown ballroom,” Hinderberger said. “She came back one day and showed me Frankie Manning’s video Hellzapoppin and I became hooked.”
Frankie Manning, “the pioneer of Lindy hop swing dance,” says Hinderberger, “brought aerials to swing dancing in the 1930s.”
Hinderberger began taking swing dance lessons with world-class dancer Nina Gilkenson at the Mob Town Ballroom. Frankie Manning would be turning 99 this year.
This summer Hinderberger will be heading out west to Wyoming to work on a ranch with his friends.
“We will probably swing dance a lot with each other,” said Hinderber.
Next step, bring the swing scene to Wyoming.