Patrick Swayze's mother, who taught him to dance, dies at 86
Patsy Swayze, who taught her late son Patrick to dance and had a lengthy dance resume all her own, died Monday at age 86, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Patsy Swayze first worked in dance in Houston, where Patrick and her other four children were born and raised. There she taught dance at the University of Houston and founded and directed the Houston Jazz Ballet Company. Her son wasn't her only student to go on to fame -- she also taught Jaclyn Smith, Tommy Tune and Debbie Allen, and Patrick Swayze met his wife, Lisa Niemi, because she too was one of his mom's students.
After she choreographed the 1980 Texas-set film "Urban Cowboy," working with star and noted dancer John Travolta, Swayze moved to L.A., ran her own dance studio, and continued to work with Hollywood's dance needs as her own son's dancing star rose.
"She was a genuine technician demanding the best and she darn well got it," swim teacher Jan "Mama Fishy" Pierce wrote on her swim school website. "She kept Buddy (Patrick) humble and sometimes we felt sorry for him being a teacher's kid -- like a preacher's kid -- always having to be the best."
"Patsy taught us how to teach because she understood the body and how it worked, whether in water or on land," Pierce recalls on her site. "We could take a kid out of preschool dance class and have him swimming in no time at all. How? We sang some of the same songs we danced to, kicked our legs like a dancer using pointed or flexed feet, worked our shoulder rolls for strokes, and made wet lessons work just as well as dry."
According to the Times, Patsy Swayze discovered dance out of necessity. She was in a car accident as a child, and her mother enrolled her in dance classes to help her recover.
She is survived by three of her five children. Her husband Jesse died in 1982, daughter Vickie in 1994, and Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer in 2009 at age 57. Patsy Swayze died just two days after the four-year anniversary of Patrick Swayze's death.