Gasp! Your professors do more than just teach?
Yes they do, and you can watch them practice ballroom dancing in Bannow’s lobby every Friday night at 6:30 p.m.
Fairfield has been holding ballroom dancing lessons for artistic professors, staff, administration and their spouses for the last five years. They gather to waltz, twist and twirl for nine lessons during the fall and spring.
About 12 people gather each week. Professors that attend include Professor Dew of Politics, Professor Orman of Politics, Professor Hodgson of Sociology, Professor Connelly of the Media Center and Professor Theresa Dykeman of Philosophy.
The administration receives an e-mail at the beginning of each semester urging them to participate. Lessons occur in the lobby of Bannow.
A portable CD player rested on the curved bench with a collection of ballroom dancing CDs. The pairs dance the Fox Trot, Swing and the Merengue to CDs that include “The Ballroom Collection,” “Dance Life,” and “Fred Astaire.” But ballroom dancing music is not the only type of music they dance to-they also have reggae!
The dress is casual-slacks, button down shirts, and even a few sweatshirts. There’s lots of laughing because the dancers like to have a good time, but they also take their dancing seriously.
The president of Ballroom Dancing Club for students came to one of their practices and invited the older dancers to dance in the spring. The professors are very eager to team up with students, and have been practicing so they will be able to keep up.
Instructor Jerry Paris, known as “Mr. Smooth,” is from New York City and has been running the program for the past five years. Paris is about 65 years old, a very talented dancer, and his pupils are honored to have them as their teacher.
I came on a rare day when Paris was not there, but the dancers were holding a “Captain’s Practice.” Paris told his students to work on their steps in hopes of perfecting them while he was away in the Poconos that weekend. Without Paris, the dancers seemed uneasy about their steps at first. A cry of “We need our instructor!” was heard from Professor Hodgson, but the dancers quickly got into the ‘swing’ of things and picked up the pace. Mrs. Hodgson seemed to keep the group organized and on track.
“Tonight is supposed to be a ‘homework night’ without our instructor,'” laughed Mrs. Hodgson as she fumbled through the steps.
Janitors took delight in watching and danced as they cleaned and walked into the lobby elevator.
“They’re much better dancers than we are,” said Professor Hodgson. “It’s funny. People walk through the lobby and say, ‘What the heck are they doing?'”
So what do their students think?
“It’s nice that teachers are involved with the university in more ways than just teaching,” said Alison Sikora ’06.
“I’m hoping to catch a few of my professors there!” laughed Beth Casciano ’06.
As I walked away from the dancers in Bannow’s Lobby, “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3” could be heard above the scuffle of feet. A voice said, “Wait until the reporter leaves, then we can dance to rap!”