An Interview With Lynn Magnesen

It is very exciting for the Fordney Foundation to come across people who really adore ballroom dance, as much as we do.  As you know, we are involved in ‘The Ladies of Ballroom’ CD/Project with Brent Thomas Mills and one of the ladies in this project is the very vivacious and interesting Lynn Magnesen. I have mentioned Lynn before, as a lady who will be featured on Brent’s CD project.   The Fordney Foundation had the pleasure of seeing Lynn dance at the Emerald Ball in Los Angeles in April.  Lynn is quite the Pro-Am dancer.  She won first place in every comp she entered!  You can see that she shines on the dance floor and that she is totally in her element.  And when you get to meet her wow…you get this exciting, beautiful woman, who is so full of life and spirit, and we can’t wait to share what Lynn has to say about a lot of things.  Lynn claims she dances because she must but feels lucky because she can!   I hope you find Lynn as inspirational as we did, because we sure had fun interviewing her.

Freddie Brock:   Lynn please tell our readers where you live?

Lynn Magnesen:   Scott, my husband (who will most likely be working with Brent Thomas Mills too doing percussion) and I live in Chicago.

Lynn and Scott Magnesen

FB:   How did you and Scott become interested in ballroom dance?  Yes folks, both Lynn and Scott ballroom dance.

LM:  We live in Chicago but are dancing at a Fred Astaire Studio in Redondo Beach, California.  The studio is owned by Thomas and Izabella Lewandowski. Once our youngest son went to college and we became empty-nesters, Scott and I decided to reconnect.  We decided to take dancing lessons and started with a single tango lesson.  From that one lesson, we blossomed and  started taking lessons and eventually gave up our gym membership, as it became a much better workout for us to dance.  At the studio, we were assigned instructors.  After my original partner left the studio, I decided to explore my options.  Somehow, along the way, we were talked into competing, something I didn’t think was in my DNA.

FB:   Lynn, why do you say that?  we saw you dance, you are terrific!

LM:  Yes, I was a mother and I raised four testosterone-laden boys, so I went from being a mother, to dancing in competitions.

FB:   Sounds pretty awesome to me and after watching you dance, it looks like you were born to do it!

LM:  I have four boys with families of their own.

Magnesen Family

FB:   When Lynn showed us this family photo, I thought it was so beautiful, I just had to share it with all of our readers.

FB:   When did you start competing in Pro-Am competitions?

LM:  That was four years ago.  After my very first competition, I was hooked.

FB:   How did you find your Pro-AM dance partner?

LM:   I now dance with Vard Margaryan (American Rhythm) and Tykhon Zhyvkov (American Smooth and International Latin).  I  love everything I dance with them…there are exceptions on random days.  My husband Scott dances with Anastasia Kuzieva (who also works with me).  They are wonderful instructors and great people.  We are so very fortunate to be working at such a high quality studio, with owners who understand the value of dance in our lives as well as the importance of customer service.  All of the hard work is a pleasure in such a happy and fun place to spend time in, (Fred Astaire Studio).

FB:   Did you begin as a newcomer and then go through bronze, silver and gold levels?  Please tell us your current ballroom dance competition level and what you are striving to reach?

Vard Margaryan, Lynn Magnesen

LM:  I did begin in the traditional way (bronze, silver, gold) and am currently competing in open gold.  My goals have morphed as I’ve grown with each instructor.  The main thing that I always keep in the front of my mind is to keep moving forward and keep learning new things.

FB:   Tell us which competitions you have placed in?

LM:   Vard, Tykhon and I place at every competition we go to.  Honestly, placement is not what is important to me.  How we dance and work together in any particular heat or multi-dance entry is more important than how we place.  In a subjectively judged sport, I realize I can’t control what anyone thinks of how I dance or who comes to compete against us.  The best I can do is try to focus on what my job is and our partnership.  On that front, I am extremely fortunate to have great people as partners which includes Scott.

FB:   Do you have any dance coach or coaches and how have they helped you with competing?

LM:  At my first studio, our owner continually brought in coaches but I’ve learned from my new situation, that having the continuity of a team (my instructors, Anastasia, and Thomas and Izabella) has been incredibly valuable.  Coaches are invited occasionally and I do love working with each of them, but for my old brain, the cohesion of my present coaches has been the most helpful.

Tykhon Zhyvkov, Lynn Magnesen

FB:   What is your favorite competition to compete in and why?

LM:  I don’t think I have a favorite competition…they have all been fun.  Even when I haven’t given my finest performance, I still think they are fun!

FB:   What is your favorite dance you like to perform and why?

LM:  I have a few dances I really connect with:  Bolero, International Rumba and Viennese Waltz.  It might be because the music typically speaks to me in all three of these dances.

FB:  Do you have a dance dress designer make your dresses or do you obtain ready made dresses?

LM  With the exception of my first two dresses (one rhythm and one smooth) all my dresses have been designed for me.  I’m not an easy fit off-the-rack, so it has been a smarter choice for me.

FB:  Can you do your own hair and makeup or does someone help you?

Lynn and Vard

Lynn and Vard

LM:  I can do my own makeup but not my hair.  I trust a few people to help me with both, as needed.

FB:   Tell us a little about what dance organizations, events, or dance projects you are involved with?

LM:  I was formerly on the board and am still a member of the guild of a well-respected regional ballet company (Salt Creek Ballet) but with the travel required for my ballroom situation and our family, I have time for fewer things.

FB:   Do you have any words of advice for beginning Pro-Am dancers?

LM:  I’ve made a few very good friends through ballroom.  Occasionally, we joke about writing a blog or a book about how to be organized for competition and how to navigate through it all.  Although I think we could be pretty helpful; the bottom line is to be organized and open to new people and the accompanying experiences that enhance anything you do.  Dancers are a truly wonderful, open and supportive community.  I feel blessed to be included among them.

FB:   Is there anything you would like to add or say that our readers would find of interest about you (hobbies, other sports or other talents)?

LM:  To young dancers, I would say to work hard and smart.  Focus on your part, not so much on what happens around you.  And surround yourself with quality support.  Don’t ever think you’re finished learning.  That’s the best part of dance.

Lynn and her husband Scott are very supportive about working with our non-profit organization on ‘The Ladies of Ballroom’ CD project.  Lynn told us that both Scott and herself have a soft spot for being able to provide opportunities for kids, having four boys of their own.  A few years ago, after working many years with the largest high school soccer tournament in the United States, a community service award was dedicated to the Magnesens in their honor, for significantly impacting their community and themselves by working together on a service project.  They submitted a video of how this project impacted them as a team.  It is designed to inspire volunteerism on a continual basis.  Congratulations on this achievement and understanding the meaning of giving back and getting a whole community involved!

The Fordney Foundation knows we have made good friends with Lynn and Scott Magnesen and we couldn’t be happier!

Thought Of The Week:

“There are shortcuts to happiness, dancing is one of them” as quoted by Lynn Magnesen



Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website