Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

Patrick Swayze

We first worked together on Dirty Dancing. To this day, Patrick is one of the few actors I've worked with on a film project who had any technical dance training. It raised the stakes of what we could accomplish. Every day, he came in and stretched and warmed up his body, and then we would try all kinds of things. In the beginning it was a think tank, a dance workshop where we all just jumped into the soup together. Patrick's strength and training helped give the girls confidence, especially when they were in his arms. He was an adventurer: he didn't necessarily know where he was going, but he loved the journey and the discovery. When we were creating "Johnny Teaches Baby to Dance," it was Patrick who said, "Let's get in the water. Let's practice lifts in the fields." He was soulful, honest and loving. The crew loved him, the dancers loved him, fellow actors loved him. He was as real as it gets. There was nothing pretentious about him at all. When he was involved in a project, he was everyone's buddy.

—Kenny Ortega

Ortega is a choreographer and director