Dirty Dancing is an American classic with a deceitful name.
It’s not about the dancing, even though there is plenty of dancing involved. It’s about a young woman’s coming of age. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen the original 1987 film and I was struck anew last week at the stage performance. I never realized, or maybe I forgot, how much that story resonates with me as a young adult woman. Baby has so much agency. She is powerful and idealistic in a way that inspires me to be a better person.
In some ways the classic romantic trope is flipped on its head in this story with Johnny Castle becoming the object of female gaze and objectification. Johnny has been hurt and used for his good looks. Even Baby is guilty to some extent for hiding their relationship from her family. While he cares for her and looks up to her so much that he wants her father’s approval. The gender reversal seems to me to be a poignant commentary on the objectification and use of women that is most common in the real world and even usually in the fictional stories told by Hollywood.
The cast of this touring company was so very talented. Even though the dancing is basically just a storytelling tool, with a title like “Dirty Dancing” the cast has to have the highest quality dancers possible and this show did not disappoint. Baby, Johnny and Penny were all fantastic. As a dancer myself I was watching for the characterization of their movements, and I am pleased to report that in my opinion their dance styles perfectly matched the characters they were portraying.
If you missed this show in Abilene you can still catch them on their tour check it out here. If you are interested in the next show coming to Abilene get ready for Chicago on May 2, 2018. Get those tickets here.
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