Jackie Dout


In 2012, James Dout approached his wife, Jackie, with an idea. Their son was getting married, and James wanted the parents of the groom to take a few dance lessons to prep for the big day.

Three years after that first fateful trip to the Hilton Head Island Fred Astaire Dance Studio, the Douts are still dancing — and Jackie has the trophies to prove it.

Jackie Dout recently returned from her first dancing competition in New Orleans with four trophies, including a first place in the Newcomers division, a first place in rhythm dancing, a second place in smooth dancing, and a “Top Competitor” award.

“I was totally in shock,” said Jackie, who traveled with fellow dancer Judi Kestenbaum, another big winner. “In everything I was entered in, I took a top position.”

For the competition, Jackie and her partners, studio instructors Armando Aseneta and Sandro Virag, danced 103 dances. “We danced almost five hours,” she said of the physically exhausting but personally rewarding contest. “It was like running a marathon in the sense that for a couple days afterward I was craving carbs, and I was tired,” she said. 

Jackie, 60, actually wasn’t brand-new to the dance scene. She started ballet at age 3 and had even minored in dance in college. But after graduating from Western Michigan and earning a master’s degree from Duquesne University, she shelved her dancing dreams and instead built an impressive career using her business degrees.

Today the business owner, teacher and adviser travels the country helping companies grow in size and profitability. But a true love never really dies, and James’ suggestion to take a few lessons relit the fire within Jackie to strap on her dancing shoes. Now she practices up to several hours a day when she’s home from her business travels and is looking forward to getting even more involved. 

“If I look at what dancing gives me, there are really four things,” she said. “First is relationships; it’s a great thing for meeting, sharing and learning with people. Also there’s the personal improvement aspect to it. I can see myself improve every day, my dancing, my physical shape and abilities, and my mental acuity. Plus there’s a sense of accomplishment. And it’s just fun; it makes me happy.”

Besides rehearsing for future dance competitions, Jackie is planning to participate in the local studio’s Trophy Ball Exhibition on Dec. 11, where she and other dancers, along with their instructors, will wow the crowd with their ballroom dancing skills.

And she and James, who is retired from the automotive industry and is a licensed pilot, have kept up their lessons together as well.

“We have a standing date every week to go take a lesson and go out to dinner,” said Jackie, who is forever thankful for her husband’s lead onto the dance floor. “For someone who’s never danced his whole life, ever, I give him kudos for going out there.”