By STEVEN GEHEGAN//Editorial Assistant
Gaby Cook and Bobby White recently brought swing dancing expertise to teach the students of South Plains College.
Lindy Hop is a style of dance from the 1920’s, a type of swing dance. That was really popular during that time. This style of dance is usually danced to jazz and up-tempo music of that era.
Vanessa Moffett, South Plains College Ballroom Dance Team instructor, brought Cook and White to West Texas to teach a Lindy Hop Dance Workshop from Oct. 7-Oct 9 at the Levelland and Reese Center campuses. The workshop taught the basics, along with more advanced moves of the Lindy Hop.
“I wanted my students to learn Lindy Hop better and learn to appreciate the dance better,” Moffett said.
Moffett said that she hoped that her students would benefit from the experience “by getting the basic knowledge of the dance, and learning as a team.”
“I want my West Texas students to be exposed to a big scene in the world of dance,” she added.
Both Cook and White, who reside in New York, have enjoyed dancing and fell in love with it in different ways. When Cook was younger, she happened to live across the street from a dance studio. What started out as a hobby started to take over her life for the past 12 years. Cook said that she enjoys the “thriving social dance scene that exists in many cities around the world.”
Cook is also a national-award winning dancer known for her dynamic style and choreographic ingenuity. In more than 10 years of professional experience, she has appeared on stages around the word, and in various films such as “Rebel in the Rye” (2016) and Best Buddies Benefit” (2016), and television shows such as “Dance League” (2016) on American Sports Network. Cook has earned a number of national titles such as International Lindy Hop Championship, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, Lindy Focus, Stompology and International Balboa Championships. She has performed at the famous Lincoln Center and the Rainbow Room in New York City. She also performed in the opening night Gala Show for Cirque Du Soleil in San Francisco in 2015.
White says that as a young adult he was a very shy person who also suffered from ADHD. Dancing helped him get over his shyness by helping him meet new people, and also helped him get rid of all of his excess energy. White has been in the dance profession for about 18 years.
White has taught vintage swing dances since 2004. He holds championship titles and placement in Balboa, Lindy Hop and solo jazz, international Lindy Hop Championships and the National Jitterbug Championships. He is the author of a popular swing dance blog “Swungover,” and the book, “Practice Swing,” a guide to practicing swing dance.
Through dancing, both Cook and White have made lots of memories and experiences. One of White’s favorites memories is getting to meet some of the “old timers,” people who were around dancing in the 1930’s and ‘40’s.
He says he enjoys hearing these stories, and “to shakes hands with an awesome era of music history.”
Cook’s favorite memories revolve around the time right before she became a professional dancer. She toured Europe alone, and by going to the swing dance scene, she was able to meet a lot of friendly people who helped her see Europe. She says that she is amazed by “the friendly network of swing dancers that not only exist in the states, but also around the world.”
Both Cook and White said they love to teach dancing, while both started for different reasons. White started to teach swing dancing when he was in college. He said that he was the only one who knew how to swing dance, and if he wanted to dance he had to teach others how to dance. Through the years, White learned that he loved to teach dance, and has been doing it since.
“Any form of social dancing is a powerful social practice,” Cook said. “It allows people to get exercise and meet people at the same time.”
When they came to SPC to teach a workshop for the SPC Ballroom Dance Team, they wanted to teach the lindy hop and how it was different from other dances. They also wanted the students to have fun and be able to express themselves through dance, and to help improve their dancing.