A romance with dance
Susie Nagorney, a mathematician and educator, will seize any chance to ballroom dance.
By John Canale
For centuries, women have struggled to convince men to join them on the dance floor. More often than not, it’s a losing battle and the men watch as their significant others dance with their friends.
Susie Nagorney ’76 is one of those women who won the dance battle. She convinced her future husband and dance partner, Frank Nagorney ADL ’72, to take lessons so he could join her on the dance floor. The duo never looked back as they teamed up to become a success in the world of ballroom dancing.
“When he was in law school, he would come to visit me in college here at Case,” said Nagorney, a mathematics major at Case Institute of Technology. “There would be dances and he wouldn’t go out there and dance. He didn’t like to go out there and just move around. He wanted to learn steps, so we started taking ballroom dancing lessons.”
They continued to hone their dance skills long after their college days. This led to the world of competitive ballroom dancing, where it’s not a matter or winning or losing, but impressing judges with your skills and techniques.
Nagorney, a lifelong educator, is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Cuyahoga Community College and a member of the board of directors of the Case Alumni Association. She was elected the board’s first female president in 2006. While serving students and her alma mater, she became an aficionado of ballroom dancing.
The couple participated in competitions and performances in Greater Cleveland and throughout the Midwest from 1983 to 1993, then took a break to devote more time to their children — then 13, 11 and six.
After the children had grown, Nagorney was eager to get back to the dance floor. But it took some convincing, and Father Time, to get Frank to lace up his dancing shoes again.
“My husband was an All-American fencer in college,” Nagorney explained. “He was competing in the over 50 group and got injured. The doctor told him he better stop fencing. So, I was finally able to convince him to get back to dancing.”
In November, Nagorney and her husband took part in a dance marathon at South Park Mall in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville. The event was a fundraiser for Ohio Cancer Research, a cause near and dear to Nagorney’s heart. She is an 18-year breast cancer survivor.
The couple performed their waltz twice during the marathon, helping the event to raise $5,000. “I really like the tango, but my husband does not,” Nagorney said.
“But we both enjoy the waltz, the foxtrot, swing, cha cha, and rumba.”
She never took dance lessons when she was growing up in the Cleveland suburb of Parma. It was not until she took classes with her future husband that she fell in love with the art.
While dancing has brought them closer, it was the sport of fencing that brought them together.
“I took a fencing class at Case, because I had to take a physical education class that fit into my schedule,” Nagorney said. “That summer the fencing coach Mr. (Menyhert) Kadar asked me to fence at his studio. My husband was there, home from law school, fencing for the summer, and that’s where we met.”
While it may have been fencing that brought them together, it’s their shared love of dancing that’s continued to sweep them off their feet.
John Canale is a freelance writer in Northeast Ohio.
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