Following the footsteps of Fred and Ginger, couple dances to top of national competition
|Burr Ridge couple Scott and Lynn Magnesen recently returned from the Fred Astaire National Dance Championships in Orlando, where Scott was named Best Bronze Male Dancer and Lynn earned five national championships. (Submitted photo)|
When Scott and Lynn Magnesen’s four kids grew up and left home, the Burr Ridge parents found themselves with an empty nest and plenty of time on their hands. They each had hobbies — Scott played golf while Lynn was big into tennis and photography. But they wanted to do something together.
So when their son announced he was getting married, the couple figured it would be a good idea to take dance classes to get ready for the big day. They planned on taking six classes, but a year-and-a-half later, they’re still stepping strong.
They’re not just dancing — they’re dancing well. The pair recently returned from the Fred Astaire National Dance Championships in Orlando in October, where Scott was named Best Bronze Male Dancer and Lynn earned five national championships. Their wins helped their studio, Fred Astaire Burr Ridge, to win Top Studio in the country for the first time.
Scott Magnesen recently talked about the couple’s success on the dance floor.
What do you like about dancing?
It’s incredibly good for fitness. We lost 25 pounds, and I lost four inches off my waist. We ended up quitting our health club because it’s way more fun to dance for an hour than do the treadmill for an hour. My wife goes every day for an hour a half and I go twice a week for an hour and a half. No. 1, we’re in the best shape we’ve ever been in. I’m 53 and I look better than I did 20 years ago. Every Friday night, instead of going to a dinner and a movie like we used to, we’ll go to dinner, have a light meal, and then go dancing for two or three hours. Before, we would go to weddings and just waited until the last song to dance, but now we dance from when it starts to when it ends.
What kinds of dancing do you do?
Well in ballroom competition, there are two types of dancing, rhythm and smooth. Smooth is the waltz, fox trots and tango, while rhythm is the rumba, cha-cha, swing, salsa and meringue. Some only do rhythm or smooth, but we do both. There are also open or closed championships. Closed is with a partner with 10-12 different moves, and you’re judged on your technique on those moves. The open championship is a series of moves you’ve created. I have nine and my wife has 16. They talk about how dancing is good at fighting off dementia and Alzheimer’s because it forces the brain to think. We do everything.
What was it like to compete at nationals and finish at the top?
For me, it was just great because there are so many more women competing than men and I’ve only been dancing for a year and a half and I beat people that have been doing it for 10 years. I had zero dance background before that.
Are you planning to continue dancing in the future?
We’re going to keep doing it. My wife will probably do it forever. Right now, we’re competing against other Fred Astaire studios, but she wants to compete against other dance companies like Arthur Murray, Blackpool, and other independents to be the best in the world. Her goal is to win it from all of the studios. We went to South Africa for our 30th anniversary and while we were there, we did dance lessons in Africa. It’s funny to hear what we’re doing wrong from people across the pond. It’s a life-changing activity. If I quit taking lessons, I would still know how to dance for the rest of my life.
How has dancing changed you?
We’re performing on Dec. 7 and 8 in Chicago, and then going to Las Vegas for nationals in the spring. Our friends tease us about it, but we look a lot different. You dance and the pounds just come off. It’s great for empty nesters. I manage money for many clients and when their kids move out, divorce rates spike. If you’re trying to do something with your spouse when the kids are grown, you can do it until you’re 80-90 years old. Like golf, you can do it forever. It’s great physically, and it’s something socially great that you can do that’s active rather than passive.
If you go
WHERE Studios are located at 212 Burr Ridge Parkway, Burr Ridge
PERFORMANCE Holiday Star Ball, noon on Friday through Saturday at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 N. River Road, Rosemont
MORE INFO Visit the Fred Astaire Burr Ridge’s website at dancelessonsburrridge.net or call 630-242-4277