Jennifer Grey joined the cast of Dancing With the Stars in 2010 with dance pro Derek Hough as her partner. The Dirty Dancing alum decided to dedicate one of her routines to her former co-star, the late Patrick Swayze, with a song from the film. Swayze’s wife, Lisa Niemi, saw the performance and shared some thoughts of her own.
Jennifer Grey became emotional during ‘DWTS’ rehearsal
In the season 11 performance, Grey and Hough chose a Viennese waltz set to “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding. The song was featured on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and Grey wanted to honor Swayze with her performance. Hough commented on the meaningful selection.
“I think that the dance was Jennifer’s tribute to Patrick,” Hough told Entertainment Weekly. “He was such an important part of her life, and the connection to Dirty Dancing was going to come up with her being on Dancing with the Stars. … His whole career is such an inspiration to me.”
Segments from the pair’s rehearsals showed Grey breaking down with emotion while working on the meaningful routine.
“It took me back in a time capsule, and I was with Patrick – I just missed him,” Grey said, according to the Daily Mail, noting a similarity to Hough. “He was like you, young and gorgeous.”
Lisa Niemi weighed in on sentimental ‘DWTS’ performance
Swayze and Niemi were married for 34 years before his death from pancreatic cancer in 1991. Niemi, also a professional dancer, tuned in for the special DWTS episode with her husband’s former co-star and commented on Grey’s show of emotion.
“What they showed of Jennifer in rehearsals, I was not quite expecting so much connection to Patrick,” Niemi told Access Hollywood Live. “And, of course, it makes total sense. It was a little tough, but how could [Jennifer] not remember working with him?”
Niemi shared how watching the performance brought back memories of her husband, and she praised Grey for nailing the dance.
“It can’t help remind you — remind me — of how much I miss him,” Niemi remarked. “But when it came to the actual dance, I was with her. I thought that dancing to ‘These Arms of Mine,’ she did every bit as good a job as I thought she would and then some. Jennifer is a natural talent and she brought this kind of special sensuality. She’s such a great actress… And then with ‘These Arms of Mine’ playing, it just added that extra magic and I was just super thrilled.”
Derek Hough had big shoes to fill during ‘DWTS’ routine
Niemi pointed out how Hough was potentially in a tough position, with almost inevitable comparisons being made to Swayze.
“When I was thinking about Jennifer going on the show, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope it doesn’t cause any additional pressure for her partner,’” Niemi said. “But I thought it was all about the dancing and the magic of the moment instead of putting [Hough] under the gun and saying, ‘Is he as good as Patrick or not?’ ”
She raved of Hough’s performance, saying, “I don’t think that was an issue at all. I thought they were beautiful together.”