In our last blog, we briefly touched upon the career of dancer, actor, and heartthrob, Patrick Swayze. Although he was an accomplished dancer, he was tough as well. Movies such as Dirty Dancing, Roadhouse and Ghost cemented his star status.

How did a kid from Houston, Texas grow into such a megastar? Who was Patrick Swayze?

Dance Beginnings

Growing up in Texas, Swayze’s mother was the director of the Houston Jazz Ballet Company and ran her own dance studio. From an early age, Swayze attended dance classes and developed a passion for ballet. Fellow classmates looked down upon Swayze for dancing and constantly made fun of him.

Beating Up Bullies

Once Swayze entered high school, he excelled in sports, including swimming, football and gymnastics. However, he continued to study ballet, and one day, five of his classmates ganged up on him and beat him up.

When his father got wind that Patrick was bullied, he contacted his high school coach and asked the coach to let Patrick have a fair fight with each individual bully. Amazingly enough, the coach agreed, and Swayze laid the smack down on each bully, one by one. None of the bullies won a fight on their own against Swayze. Perhaps this was a precursor to his Roadhouse role as a bouncer who lays down the law in a rough-and-tumble saloon.

Athletic Scholarship

Swayze was so physically talented that he was offered dance scholarships and athletic scholarships. Ultimately, he decided to go with the athletic scholarship and attended San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas. Ultimately, he dropped out of college to play Prince Charming while touring with the Disney on Parade ice show.

Ballet Career

Following his tour, Swayze returned home to Houston and met the love of his life, Lisa Niemi. Niemi was a student at his mother’s dance studio, and together they traveled to New York City to pursue ballet careers. Together, they danced with the acclaimed Joffrey Ballet and Harkness dance companies.

At the Eliot Feld Dance Company, Swayze danced as the principal dancer but his career was cut short following knee surgery. During his football days, Swayze injured his knee, and his rigorous dance routine aggravated his injury to the point of no return.


Not to be discouraged, Swayze looked to Broadway for his new career and honed his acting skills. His first Broadway role was in the 1976 production of Good Charley. Just two years later, Swayze landed the leading role of Danny Zuko in Grease. Following his performance in Grease, Hollywood studio executives offered Swayze a variety of film and TV roles.


Swayze’s first feature film was the roller disco biopic, Skatetown, USA in 1979. Swayze also appeared in a variety of TV shows, including M.A.S.H . Swayze’s first big break occurred when he starred alongside Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez and Matt Dillon in the Francis Ford Coppola film, The Outsiders in 1983. Despite the success of The Outsiders, Swayze only experienced moderate career success over the next few years, starring in some rather forgettable films.

Dirty Dancing

In 1987, Swayze starred alongside Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, which was an instant success. Swayze’s performance as tough dance instructor Johnny Castle cemented his status as a heartthrob. Not only did Swayze have the opportunity to show off his dance skills, he also uttered the famous line “nobody puts Baby in the corner.”

Swayze’s success continued when he played an action movie hero in Roadhouse in 1989. In 1991, he starred in the hit movie, Ghost with Demi Moore. This same year, he was also crowned as People magazine’s  “Sexiest Man Alive.”

To Wong Foo

In 1995, Swayze stepped out of his comfort zone and played drag queen Vida Boheme in the comedy, To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar. His performance was so well-received that he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Sadly enough, in 2009, Swayze passed away after battling pancreatic cancer. His legacy continues to live on in his movies.

If you have the chance to watch Dirty Dancing, you might be inspired to hone your dancing skills. Although you may not be able to dance as well as Patrick Swayze, you could still experience the joy of adult dance classes. Contact The Modern Ballroom Dance Studio in Woodbridge for dance classes for adults today.