Patrick Swayze and His Legacy of Dance


Reportedly, Patrick Swayze wasn’t the first choice for Dirty Dancing. Who could imagine anyone else filling that roll, lifting Jennifer Grey and gazing into her eyes in that sensual, Swayze way? He moved with the grace of a tiger, lifted Grey completely above his head, and looked masculine with his mix of life-weary battle scars and angular jaw line. He looked just dangerous enough to be a “bad boy,” and just sensitive enough to make the character believable. Patrick Swayze danced in fluid motion – light on his feet and with style.

Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing - movie posterAlthough classically trained and a ballet professional, it was Swayze’s sexy style that inspired a generation to get off the couch and start dirty dancing. Swayze’s form of dance was a combination of several types, but essentially it was a style where the two dancers embrace, with hips close together, and very physical swaying movements. Advanced dancers may perform lifts and dips. The fact that the two dancers are practically glued together also offers a classic outlet for teenage rebellion. Dirty dancing is often banned at school dances, even now.

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey dancing

Although co-star Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze weren’t friends off-screen, Swayze never revealed anything but the raw attraction portrayed on-screen. An absolute professional, Swayze insisted on doing his own stunts, and on filming the freezing water scenes repeatedly until he and Grey got them right. He swayed, he dipped, he shimmied and turned, and he made it look effortless, although it really landed him in the hospital.

It is hard to imagine that Dirty Dancing would have experienced such phenomenal success without Patrick Swayze’s talent and dedication. His transformation into Johnny Castle, with gusto, blew audiences away. A rebel, he was the guy with a heart of gold who suffered hard breaks but came back shining. Swayze was the guy you could picture at your side when walking though life’s disappointments. And through it all, he danced; the energy crackled when Patrick Swayze moved.

Patrick Swayze lifts Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing, along with other movies of the 1980s, set the stage for the build up of a dancing renaissance that has led to shows such as Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance?. Dance studios continue to sign people wanting to learn the art. Release of the news of a possible remake of Dirty Dancing set Twitter fans alight, but the project was postponed. Patrick Swayze made the movie Dirty Dancing, sharing with the world a talent he had practiced and cultivated since childhood, but never knowing how famous he would make the art of dance in popular culture. He never knew the legacy of dancing that continues because of his influence. An influence that hasn’t stopped to this day.

To contribute your story of what Dirty Dancing or Patrick Swayze means to you, visit Patrick Swayze’s Everlasting Footprint.

About Cindy Readnower

Cindy Readnower, MBA, specializes in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An award-winning certified Life Coach, business consultant, and publisher at Skinny Leopard Media, she helps writers produce and promote their books. She is a newspaper columnist, author of "Inherited Secrets," and a blogger.

Leave a Reply