Lewis and Breckenridge have been talking about performing the routine since they started working together in preparation for Lewis’ mirror ball trophy winning performance at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore on May 12.
“Getting a chance to channel my inner Patrick Swayze is such an amazing challenge,” said Lewis, the former sports anchor at KCBS, now with NBC News Radio. “When he did the movie, Patrick was 35 and had been dancing for probably 20 years. Let’s say I’m a little over 35 and dancing for about five months. To pull this off with Jill would be incredibly rewarding. She has broken down every nuance and has made me believe this is doable.”
In the 1987 film, Swayze played dance instructor Johnny Castle who partnered with new dancer Jennifer Grey for the memorable scene after letting the world know that “nobody puts Baby in a corner.”
Unlike the movie, Lewis is the student and Breckenridge is the pro and the guiding force for the dramatic performance.
Before opening her Pleasanton studio, Breckenridge danced professionally around the country, including a stint as a ballroom dance competitor and a Las Vegas showgirl. She’s well aware of the anticipation building for the performance.
“People seem to be in awe and very excited about this,” said Breckenridge. “Pretty much anyone knows about his dance so they have a memory or an experience tied to it. When they hear about it, you can almost see them reliving that moment and I’m sure there’s a part of them wishing they could be up there doing what we’re doing.”
Learning to dance was always a bucket list item for Lewis who dove in headfirst with the Dancing with the Tri-Valley Stars competition, using the Dirty Dancing video for daily inspiration. He calls getting a chance to perform this routine a metaphor for life.
“I never would have tried to do this a few years ago,” said Lewis. “Now, I have this new hobby I love with the message for everyone that it’s never too late to get started. I want those who see us dance think about something they want to do and go for it—make your life the masterpiece it was meant to be and I’ll be in your audience rooting you on.”
Both Lewis and Breckenridge are constantly asked if they are going to do “the lift”, the moment where Swayze lifts Grey overhead moments before the closing credits. Neither is willing to tip their hand only saying that you have to be there to find out.
Dirty Dancing will cap a string of performance of Breckenridge’s students on the Family Fun Stage at the Alameda County Fair starting at 3:30 on July 8.