Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A Dancer Dies
Dance was a huge part of my life when I was younger. HUGE.
So although celebrity deaths can sometimes leave me numb, I'm really sad about the death of Patrick Swayze.
Of course everyone thinks of classics like Ghost and Dirty Dancing when they think of him. What was high school without Dirty Dancing? What girl hasn't rolled her eyes at herself in the spirit of "I carried a watermelon?"
But the movie that brings tears to my eyes, especially now, is the dance movie he did with his wife Lisa Niemi: One Last Dance.
For people who are not "dance people," this movie may not seem that interesting, and the situations and feelings presented may strike many as unfamiliar. It expresses a lot that I think perhaps only people who have had their lives tangled up in dance can really understand and which at times might strike some non-dancers as a little melodramatic. I think it's right on, though. The writing isn't perfect, but it's so true, to my mind; I could watch the film over and over.
Now I watch clips of it and tears come to my eyes. I think to myself, never again those muscles, that grace. Never again that leap, those strong arms supporting his partner on stage and in life, that smile. There are others with strength and grace, of course; other dancers who might leap higher, spin faster, be even better - there's always an athlete who can do more. But never again this beautiful athlete, this dancer. His body, his moves, his very dynamic physical presence, are gone; our time with him is over. I am sad for that. I sympathize with his wife as she expresses in this fictional scene (time index 5:37) emotions she must surely have known in real life: "You're beautiful. I love you." What wife in love with her husband doesn't feel that, and feel her pain?
I am indulging, wallowing in sentiment here, I know. Maybe it's the dance thing, or the spouse thing, or both. But while the death of Michael Jackson left me marveling at his talent, career, and eccentricity, the death of Patrick Swayze has left me saddened in a way I can actually feel. Both had their troubles, both achieved much more with their talent than most of us do in a lifetime - as did many of the people who passed away this year: Cory Aquino, Ted Kennedy - and, in fact, both were amazing dancers; but Swayze was closer to home for me, and perhaps that's why his passing moves me more than I expected.
ZMD says it so beautifully in this tribute: "Farewell, Patrick Swayze. You were a part of my growing up, and your death only reinforces what we should hold dear in life: family, friends, integrity, character." Amen.