Last year, the Swing Cats began as a small group of casual swing dancing enthusiasts. Now, the club is moving forward as it grows both in membership and skill, and students are learning a mix of East Coast and Charleston moves.
Captain Charlotte Fressilli ’15 began the club in the first semester of her freshman year in partnership with Catherine Perkins ’14, who is currently abroad. “I saw swing dancing in a movie when I was little, and I thought it was cool. I took lessons in high school, and when I got to Wheaton I was hoping that there was a Swing Club. Since there wasn’t, I made one myself.”
At the meetings, Fressilli usually teaches new members the basics first, including the triple-step, triple-step, rock-step that can be thought of as the foundation of swing dancing. Beyond the simple outside and inside turns, waist wrap, and underarm turn, some popular moves are the tornado, the windshield wiper, the sweetheart, and the sailor hold.
“It’s a different kind of dance that you wouldn’t normally find on a college campus,” said club member Roula Giokas ’15.
Fressilli often finds new steps online, learns them outside of class, and teaches them to other club members. In learning separate moves, dancers are soon able to dance freely to a few songs played at the end of the meeting. Once the rhythm is learned, swing dancing is a matter of stringing together a set of moves.
“It’s something that a lot of different people can enjoy,” Fressilli said.
The group will be performing for the first time at Relay for Life on April 5 at 7pm. Fressilli and Katie Fernald ’16, who is also a member of Tap Out Loud, choreographed a routine together to teach to the group. Twelve students will be performing to the song “Sing Sing Sing” by Benny Goodman. The routine includes a combination of partner moves as well as synchronized patterns involving the entire group.
The Swing Cats meet every Tuesday at 6:30pm. Anyone is welcome to come, no matter their skill level, and interested students can get more information by emailing Charlotte Fressilli at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the Wheaton Swing Cats Facebook page.