Cool class of the week

Whitney Chaffin

Swing dance teaches social skills, provides fun and relaxation

Energy, fun and lifelong skills are three things students can experience in Studio Swing Dance I.

Dance instructor Beverly Petersen-Fitts teaches the course on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 to 11:50 a.m.

In a typical class day, Petersen-Fitts said she plays music for her students to get loose as soon as they get into the classroom.

“I tell the boys to get a partner and warm up,” she said. “We usually do two songs and sometimes cha-cha since my students learned that.”

After the two songs are over, Petersen-Fitts asks students to rotate partners so everyone gets a chance to warm up.

She then takes attendance and reviews material the students learned in the last class. After they review, students dance to another two songs and change partners to practice new material.

“If I have something new to show them, we break it down and work on it to throw it in at the end of the day,” she said.

Petersen-Fitts said this class is a recreational, social dance class that teaches people lifelong skills.

“I want to give them confidence to dance at the next wedding they go to,” she said.

Toward the end of every semester, she has a Fall Fling during a class period where students are allowed to bring friends, family or dates to participate in a dance. The students dress up, take pictures, dance and enjoy refreshments.

Ian Pinckney, sophomore sports administration major and member of the Kent State basketball team, said he loves the course and the Fall Fling because it’s all about having fun.

“Originally, me and my coach were walking past the class, and I didn’t want to take it,” Pinckney said. “(Petersen-Fitts) knows my coach, so they kind of forced me into it, and I ended up liking it.”

Pinckney said he signed up for the class because he needed to take another elective.

“I always see it in movies and stuff so I wanted to know if everything was like it was, or if it was deceiving,” Pinckney said. “I now see its actually more than what you see on TV.”

Petersen-Fitts said she teaches her students dance etiquette and technique, but she emphasizes that everyone dances with everyone and encourages them to have fun.

Patrick O’Connor, associate professor of educational health services, said he took the class years ago and agreed it helps students get to know each other. He said he still stops by the classroom on his lunch break to help students learn because he likes to see them have fun, work together and interact in a different way than at clubs or bars.

“I come as often as I can depending on my schedule,” O’Connor said. “It’s just a great way for males and females to interact.”

Sophomore architecture major Za-Non Miller said swing dance is his “specialty class” because this is his second time taking it.

“I love it,” he said. “I also do Latin dance and tap dance, but I do swing dance for fun.”

Miller said students needing an extra class should definitely take Studio Swing Dance I because it is not only fun and energetic, but it is a great way to relieve stress.

Contact features correspondent Whitney Chaffin at [email protected].