Robert “Mitch” Mitchussen and Michael Gilkey may not be heirs apparent to Fred Astaire. But the two graduates have found a niche on the dance floor—as competitive ballroom dancers. And they’re not alone: Their wives also compete, although, given the pro-am arrangement of competitive dancing, the husbands and wives dance with professional instructors rather than spouses.
Gilkey, a 1973 graduate and president of Gilkey Window Co. in Cincinnati, began dancing about 11 years ago after his wife, Sue, bought lessons at a silent auction. The couple began competing a year or two later after attending a dance competition as spectators. Although Gilkey says they’re average dancers, they’ve competed in events in Clearwater, Fla., Miami, Asheville, N.C., Chicago, Cleveland and the Mecca of ballroom dancing—the Star Ball in Columbus, Ohio.
Mitchussen, a 1954 graduate and chief financial officer of the Face and the Body Day Spas in St. Louis, began dancing about four years ago after attending a competition with his wife, Peggy. Soon, they, too, were competing and to date have participated in 11 events, including competitions in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., where Mitchussen was named the top student in his category. The couple also competes in Columbus and next spring will dance in Cancun, Mexico.
Beyond awards, Mitchussen says, dancing is a great workout and social activity. And, Gilkey adds, it’s something couples can share. “It does enrich your relationship.”