Dancing in front of a crowd is nothing new for Dancing With the Detroit Stars participant Marina Lagocha.
The 59-year-old started ballroom dancing at age 15 in her hometown of Gorky (now known as Nizhny Novgorod), Russia and regularly performed in competitions and showcases, dancing either with many people or by herself. But she stopped dancing after she moved to the United States at age 34 and only picked it up again four or five years ago.
“It’s always been in my dreams to dance again,” she says. “But I didn’t know how I could dance again at my age. It’s hard. It’s really hard.”
Lagocha is a medical esthetician who works at a beauty parlor in West Bloomfield. Alexandria Riley, one of the contestants in last year’s Dancing with the Detroit Stars gala and the chief development officer for the city of Pontiac, is a longtime client, and asked her if she would be a contestant this year.
Lagocha and her husband left Russia in 1994, just a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was a period marked by economic tumult as the country struggled to transition to capitalism after decades under strict state control.
“It was a strange time in Russia,” she says.
Her husband’s sister had married and moved to America, Lagocha says, and they wanted to try something different as well.
Twenty-five years later, they’re still here. Lagocha and her husband, Marat, an engineer who owns a small construction company, live in Farmington Hills. She’s spent more than 20 years in the beauty industry.
Despite some butterflies about picking up dancing again in midlife, Lagocha says it’s been smooth sailing learning her choreography. She’s teamed with Clive Phillips, an internationally known dance instructor, and has been practicing the roughly 3-minute routine, which she says is a combination of the cha cha, samba and rhumba.
“Now I’m dancing for fun with no pressure,” she says. “It’s truly a joy.”
Join us at our annual Dancing with the Detroit Stars gala and support Lighthouse. The event takes place Nov. 16 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. We’ll see you there!