Pop Quiz
Casey ’61
Competitive Country Western and International Latin dance champion

Retired ExxonMobil engineer Lawrence Casey first signed up for dance lessons to learn a few casual moves he could try at country-western clubs. He began pairing with a professional dancer and has won Country Western Pro-Am championships around the globe. Now he mainly competes in International Latin and has been known to do the two-step at the supermarket.

What’s your favorite competition category?
a. Texas Two-Step
b. Cha-Cha
c. Waltz
Who would be your dream dance partner from the country-western music world?
a. Dolly Parton
b. Emmylou Harris
c. Miranda Lambert
I guess I’m traditional, and Emmylou Harris seems like the most classic country performer.
“I didn’t know much about dancing until I retired … ”
Favorite dance movie?
a. An American in Paris
b. Saturday Night Fever
c. Strictly Ballroom
I didn’t know much about dancing until I retired, so my only exposure to dancing would have been movies like Saturday Night Fever. I remember lines about [dance concepts like] “striking the line,” and I’m pretty good at that now.
4. What’s the best part of competitive dancing?
a. Having an excuse to wear a cowboy hat
b. Getting to travel to competitions around the world
c. The applause
When you’re competing, there could be as many as a dozen couples on the dance floor. So you’re trying to get the judge’s attention. If you get a bunch of applause for your performance, then the judge is going to look over, and hopefully you’re doing something good.
What aspect of your résumé has most helped you with dance?
a. Serving in the military
(including 28 years in the Army Reserves)

b. Being a rancher in Texas
c. Studying chemical engineering at Bucknell
It’s got to be the military because of the discipline. When I was in basic and in Korea, you had to get up in the morning and do all your PT [physical training] exercises. You didn’t want to, but you had to. Competitive dancing has a lot of exercise and discipline in it. And Milana Pliner [his current coach and dance partner] is Russian and kind of like a drill sergeant.
What do people find most surprising about competitive dance?
When I started Country, I invented a move called the “Beaumont,” because I’m from Beaumont, Texas. If I went blank and forgot the choreography, I’d do the Beaumont so my teacher, Shawna Dysart, would know I was lost. Then she’d pinch me to get me out of my frozen thing and “back lead” me into the routine again.
Shawna Dysart and Lawrence Casey ’61 hoof
Shawna Dysart (left) and Lawrence Casey ’61 hoof it for the judges in the Country Western Dance world championships.
Photo: United Country Western Dance Council