Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi
Irina Amzashvili’s introduction to swing dancing came in 2009 through a class at Irvine’s Atomic Ballroom. Now the 20-year-old Irvine resident works there as an instructor, teaching the Lindy Hop, Balboa, and Charleston, and competing at international events with partner James Bianco. Her advice to those curious about trying it? “It’s easy to get started. And it’s cool if you mess up—this is a fun, lighthearted dance.”
Is swing dance all about fast footwork and flips?
It totally can be, but it’s also about connecting with your partner, communicating through body movements. Everyone you dance with is different, so it’s interesting to try and find that connection each time.
Do you and your partner do any crazy stuff?
We love doing aerials. That’s something we try to preserve in the dance because not a lot of people do them anymore. Of course we don’t do them socially— only for competitions. They’re fun, though I’ve been dropped a few times; I wasn’t hurt, luckily.
What drew you to swing?
I grew up learning tap, ballet, and Irish dancing, but dancing with a partner was new and exciting. And I love the big-band music from the ’30s and ’40s.
You also seem to like the fashion.
Absolutely! I always try to wear vintage-inspired clothing while dancing, and I’ve gotten quite good with vintage updos, if I do say so myself
Take her class!
See a list of Amzashvili’s upcoming drop-in classes at atomicballroom.com.