Classes that dance to a different tune

Maya Martin photo

Assistant Professor Cathy Flynn instructs dance partners — Preston Harrison, a communication major from Cullman, Alabama, and Meg Lyons, a biomedical sciences major from Dothan, Alabama — on the steps to swing dance.


Maya Martin

Students file into their classroom on a Monday afternoon, some wearing loose clothing, and line themselves against the brick wall chatting away. Instead of a room full of desks and chairs, the setting is a dim, spacious gym.

Cathy Flynn, assistant professor of kinesiology and health promotion, partners up the women and men for that day’s first lesson in ballroom dancing: the foxtrot. 

Ballroom dancing (KHP 1134) is one among many Troy University classes that may not be required but add fun and variety when taken as electives. When students sign up for courses, they may go for the standard English, social sciences and math classes but miss out on some hidden gems, such as yoga and leadership.

‘Never goes out of style’

The foxtrot is one of the American dances Flynn teaches, including the waltz, swing, and Latin dances such as the salsa, cha-cha-cha, rumba, tango and the samba.

Ellis Bush, a senior lecturer, dances with Flynn to demonstrate the basic steps multiple times before letting the class try the movements alone.

“Ballroom dance is a class that anybody, not just freshmen, might be interested in,” Flynn said. “Ballroom dance never goes out of style. 

“You’ve got these fad dances like ‘Baby Shark.’ It’s fun and funny, but next year it will be something else.”

“The dances show students the past and present of dance,” said Preston Harrison, a communication major from Cullman, Alabama, who was a sophomore in the spring.

“Ballroom dance is a lot of fun, and you can use the dances for weddings or formal fraternity or sorority,” Harrison said. “For a first-time dancer, it’s a lot of fun.”

Bush said that there are many occasions where ballroom dancing would be appropriate, and he recommends the class to students who want to exercise, have fun and socialize.

Flynn also teaches KHP 1124, beginning yoga; KHP 1107, beginning swimming; and KHP 2201, camping and outdoor education. The classes are mostly filled with physical education majors, but other students do take those classes as electives.

Take yoga to relax

“The yoga class would be another good choice for students, especially freshmen, because it’s a stress reliever,” Flynn said. “We don’t get into the religious aspect and the theories; it’s just the relaxation and the poses.”

John Kline, professor and director of the Leadership Institute, recommends leadership courses for fun and practicality.

Kline said that Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. thinks leadership is important, and the Chancellor’s Fellowship, a faculty and staff group, has looked at leadership in all departments at Troy.

 “The fellowship is looking to see that more leadership is taught,” Kline said, “not just from our courses, but leadership across the university. We would like to be known as a leadership university.”

Kline said Troy’s courses contribute to that idea and are the reason over 600 students enrolled in LDR 1100, the introduction to leadership class, in fall 2018. He expects that number to grow. 

“We stress servant leadership,” Kline said. “Leaders must serve the community and the organization. True leadership is service.”

Leadership’s three C’s

Leadership development emphasizes service, communication skills, the importance of having a vision, and the three C’s: character, competence and confidence. 

“I enjoyed intro to leadership,” said Riyin McGoley, a financial economics major from Dothan, Alabama, who was a sophomore in the spring. “I took it because I thought it would help me make decisions more clearly.”

McGoley said Lecturer Duane Gunn taught students how to effectively manage the people they are leading so that everyone would be satisfied and accommodated.

“I used the things I learned in intro with another class,” McGoley said. “My group had to come up with a project, but no one knew what we should do our project on or how we should set it up.”

McGoley said she grew irritated that no one was offering any ideas. She took the initiative and decided on a topic and procedure for the group.

“I guess I just took charge when no else wanted to,” McGoley said.

McGoley recommends the introduction to leadership class for indecisive or quiet students. She said the class will prepare them for situations requiring leadership.

Kline encourages students to enroll in classes like LDR 2200, tools for leadership, where they study briefing, positive branding, interviewing, delegation and teamwork. 

Kline also mentioned a leadership and interpersonal skills class (LDR 3310) and a new class in the fall of 2019: contemporary views of women in leadership. 

Influencers are leaders

“I think that we could have more emphasis on leadership,” Kline said. “Many students have done some activities in high school but don’t continue with them when they get to Troy.

“We would like to see everyone be a leader. If you influence someone, you are a leader. If you have children or are active in anything in the community, you’ll have some leadership.”

Leadership classes offer terrific teachers and social interaction, Kline said. The students hone their communication abilities. It’s fun and practical for helping you build lifelong skills.

 “They are just life skills,” Kline said. “For any major and any course of study, leadership will help you.”

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