Backstage with Kurt and Kirby (Johnny and Baby) from Dirty Dancing


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By David Russell

Film history is littered with iconic dance moves that have made actors household names and been butchered on dance floors ever since. There’s Gene Kelly’s puddle-splashing tap in Singin’ in the Rain, John Travolta’s finger pointing disco moves in Saturday Night Fever and Kevin Bacon’s angry warehouse romp in Footloose.

But no move has captured the hearts of audiences quite like ‘the lift’ performed by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. For the past three weeks Adelaide audiences have been flocking to see the lift live at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s stage performance of Dirty Dancing. Actor Kurt Phelan plays Johnny Castle, the role that catapulted Patrick Swayze to stardom. It’s a fact that isn’t lost on Kurt.

Blog770px-Kurt Phelan (Johnny) and Ensemble 'Final Scene' (c) Jeff Busby

“I’m a huge Patrick Swayze fan, so that helps to ease my doubts with it,” Kurt told Inside South Australia.

“In the beginning when we first started the show it was a big thing in my mind. But when we started doing it for audiences and started hearing at stage door and on Twitter that ‘you’ve really lived up to Patrick’ that was nice… hopefully he’s out there somewhere giving me a thumbs up.”

With Dirty Dancing about to enter its fourth and final week, Inside South Australia went backstage to chat to Kurt and co-star Kirby Burgess and learn how to do ‘the lift’ for ourselves. According to Kirby, while its their job to make the lift look easy, its a hard move to pull off.

Kirby plays Baby, and like many others in the cast, grew up watching the film. She says anybody who loves the movie will also love the stage show.

“The stage show is the film on stage… we wanted to portray exactly those characters and exactly that love story and you get that new element of seeing those amazing dance moves in the flesh, which can be pretty spectacular.”

If you’d like to see the lift for yourself enter the competition below for a chance to win a double pass to see the show.

The Adelaide Festival Centre is a Brand South Australia member.

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