Dance teacher wants to free the child in us all

Shelly Frome
Special to The Black Mountain News

As is her custom, Cindy Hady plans to step out onto the grass at the Park Rhythms summer concerts the moment the band strikes up. At first, however, there will be a brief pause, as if Hady and her followers are posing for a twilight photo with Lake Tomahawk as the backdrop.

Cindy Hady keeps the tone light and fun at the beginning contemporary line dancing classes she teaches at the Carver Center.

“Actually,” said Hady, “what I’m doing is listening to the beat. Given my mental Rolodex, I’ve got thousands of dances in my head to choose from. I find my choreography out of any number of options and then go into our line dance.”

And this is what makes her approach so unique. The band of the week can be playing swing, salsa, pop songs from the ’50s or even country. But when Hady swings into her chosen style, you won’t find any semblance of the usual Boot Scootin Boogie stomp stomp, kick kick, grapevine and clap. Everything that follows from Hady’s lead is equally unpredictable.

“You see,” Hady explained, “once you learn the language of dance, be it a two-step, rumba, waltz, jazz and so forth, the way you move together becomes an open affair. Dozens will join in or learn what I’m doing on the fly, and that’s fabulous. Others will wing it and go freestyle. And the little kids weave in and out and just have fun. It’s all good, I love it all. You put the internal critic aside and just play.”

Needless to say, this approach didn’t just come to her out of the blue. There is much more to her story than meets the eye.

As a child in Colorado, Hady was attracted to musicals. After watching a movie of a Broadway show, she would put on the record album, sing and dance irrepressibly. Pretending she was Nellie Forbush from “South Pacific,” she would break into her own movement version of “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair.”

Her parents were both musical (her mother both sang and danced). It was the most natural thing in the world to carry on in the same tradition.

Years later, seeking a place to retire, she and her husband came upon this area and the very vision she’d kept in her imagination. Camping in the mountains had always been her escape from the pains of her childhood and, as it happens, she once bought a painting at a Kansas City art show entitled “Window Panes” depicting a little girl looking through the panes of a window at an idyllic setting similar to ours. And so, at long last, here she was in the Blue Ridge living her happy ever after.

Here she discovered that others throughout the world shared her experience her interest in Broadway musicals and line dancing. Through experiences like four-day workshops in Raleigh, she learned that line dancing incorporated every kind of dance genre and variation, showcased by choreographers from every corner of the globe.

“Those workshops are a joyful, challenging playground of movement,” Hady said. “There I find possibilities that haven’t as yet been tapped. To quote Baryshnikov, ‘I only try to dance better than myself.’”

And that is exactly what she offers her students at the Lakeview Center and Carver Community Center in Black Mountain. The fun times at the summer concerts are only an inkling of what’s in store. But again, the emphasis is never on competition and expertise. It always harkens back to the natural joy.

“The biggest thing,” she said, “is that we put our cares aside. That’s why I do this - to watch my dancers let go of all that old baggage. You’re sharing the experience with everyone, but it’s your happy party that’s going on. That’s why those kids at the lake are so delightful. They’re seeing grownups having fun without any self consciousness and want to join in.”

She recalls the ancient tribal custom of asking anyone who is ill, “Did you dance today?” Her overall aim is to be a facilitator of feelings, one who “enables others to reclaim their childlike spirit,” she said, so that all that is reverberating can be freely expressed.

For more about her Line Dance Party, Friday, June 10, call the Lakeview Center at 669-8610. For more about her beginning contemporary line dancing classes at the Carver Center, call 669-2052. For more about her intermediate and advanced sessions, e-mail her at

Call of the Valley is writer Shelly Frome’s periodic profile of people who are drawn to the Swannanoa Valley.

Get on board

Cindy Hady’s next eight-week session at the Carver Center begins June 22 and meets Wednesdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Call the Carver Center to sign up at 669-5213.