Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Dancing Hero

Since becoming a dancer myself, at the young age of 8, I have had my heroes among the dancing world. Serious injuries to both my knees in my 30's ended my dancing days, but I continue to watch and learn from special individuals who share my passion for the dance. One of those I admired most was Patrick Swayze.

I still remember his effortless and mesmerizing performance in "Dirty Dancing". By the time that movie came out, my dance experience was limited to observation; a posture not easily suffered by those who have known dance as a discipline. The originality of his movements, the style that he introduced in that film, made me a fan for life. Even the last time I saw him dance, in a flawed film he made with his wife and partner of 30-plus years, Lisa Neemi, I was still in awe of the way he maneuvered his body, in a way that any dancer of his age would find almost impossible; he pulled me in to the moment as I marvelled at his unending ability and unique talents.

It wasn't only his physical ability that I admired. His performance in "Ghost" will always be one of the most complete and touching, and I never failed to appreciate the positive effort he gave in his acting choices. But, most of all, his approach to life, and especially to its struggles, gave me much to respect. There was no Hollywood phony there; he was the genuine article.

When I watched his touching interviews, after he became ill, all I could think about was how frustrated he must be that he could no longer will his body to dance. It is a feeling only another dancer can fathom. And, God, what a master he was! I am lucky that I will always have his work on film to enjoy long after this sad day is past. But, whenever I see him catch Baby in that incredible lift at the end of "Dirty Dancing", I know I will mourn the fact that he didn't have enough time on this earth to do all the dancing he still had in him.

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