In our last blog, we discussed a few actors who began as dancers. From J Lo to Christopher Walken, their love of performing began when taking dance classes as kids. Since writing that blog, we’ve discovered even more actors who began in the dance world.  

Zoe Saldana

Born in New Jersey, Saldana moved to the Dominican Republic with her family when she was nine years old after her father died in a car crash. In the Dominican Republic, Saldana studied a variety of different dance genres at the prestigious Espacio de Danza Academy and fell in love with ballet dancing.

When she was a sophomore in high school, Saldanha’s family returned to New York and she began dancing and acting in theater productions, including Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Once she signed with a talent agency, her acting career quickly took off after she appeared in Center Stage in 2000.

Debi Mazar

Best known for her role in the 1990 film, Goodfellas, Mazar often plays a tough- fast-talking New Yorker. Born in Queens, Mazar spent her childhood in upstate New York and Long Island.

Mazar’s background as a dancer is a little different than the actors we mentioned in our last blog. While working at a popular dance club, Danceteria, Mazar befriended Madonna and became her makeup artist. Mazar’s background dancing in hip-hop videos proved to be useful, and Madonna hired her to dance in five of her music videos, including “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Mazar enjoyed being in front of the camera so much that she began taking acting classes and signed on with a talent agency. When she appeared in Goodfellas, Mazar’s acting career took off. Today she stars with Gabriele Corcos in the Cooking Channel show, “Extra Virgin.”

Patrick Swayze

Are you as Swayze crazy as we are? Not only was the late, great Swayze a talented dancer, he could also beat up the gnarliest bad guys, which was evident in the 1989 film, Roadhouse. Of course, one of Swayze’s most famous, swoon-worthy roles was that of Johnny in Dirty Dancing, so it’s no surprise that he started off as a dancer.

Born and raised in Texas, Swayze’s mother owned a dance studio and taught him dance from a very young age. Not only was Swayze a talented dancer, he was also an outstanding athlete and was offered both dance and athletic scholarships for college. Originally pursuing gymnastics after graduation, Swayze toured the country playing Prince Charming in the Disney on Parade ice show.

After returning home from the tour, Swayze decided to pursue a ballet career in New York City with his future wife, fellow dancer Lisa Niemi. Together, they danced with the prestigious Joffrey Ballet and Harkness companies. When an old knee injury cut his ballet career short, Swayze turned to acting and dancing in Broadway musicals.

After starring as Danny Zuko in the Broadway play, Grease in 1978, Swayze’s career skyrocketed, and he soon began acting in TV shows. Once he appeared in the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film, the Outsiders, his film career gained superstar momentum.

Alexander Godunov

If you are a fan of eighties movies, you might remember Alexander Godunov’s memorable performance as a German terrorist in the 1988 film, Die Hard. Another less-known but equally riveting role Godunov played was that of Amish farmer Daniel Hochleitner in the 1985 film, Witness.

Born in the Soviet Union, Godunov was the youngest principal ballet dancer when he joined the Bolshoi Ballet in 1971. Following the steps of famous dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, Godunov defected while touring in New York City. Godunov joined the Ballet Theater in New York until Baryshnikov, the company’s artistic director, fired him.

After briefly touring with a dance ensemble, Godunov began his acting career, which flourished in the late eighties and early nineties. In 1995, Godunov died in his LA home of natural causes when he was only 45 years old.

Clearly, Hollywood includes actors with truly outstanding dance backgrounds. You may not want to launch an acting career, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to dance like Patrick Swayze.

Even if you weren’t exposed to the amazing world of dance at a young age, you can still experience the joy of ballroom dance lessons. Sign up for our adult dance classes at The Modern Ballroom Dance Studio in Woodbridge today.