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Jennifer Grey Says She and Patrick Swayze ‘Never Rehearsed’ Dirty Dancing Lift: ‘No Room for a Panic Attack’

Jennifer Grey is revealing some Dirty Dancing secrets!

Speaking with E! News recently, the actress said she and Patrick Swayze “never rehearsed” the now-iconic end scene in which Swayze’s Johnny Castle lifts her character Frances “Baby” Houseman in the air during their final dance number.

“There was no room for a panic attack,” said Grey, 63, of filming the famous moment in the 1987 romance with Swayze, who died in 2009 at age 57 from pancreatic cancer.

The actress recalled to E! News that she gave a “hard no” to running through the move ahead of time, as she was “really scared and protective” of her body then, but had “no choice” when the time came to actually film the scene.

“If you’ve ever tried it, you’d understand what it means to do it,” Grey said. “It was one of those game-day things.”

“Patrick is the only one who really anyone should try it with, because he was just such a good ballet dancer,” she told E! News. “He was so used to lifting women and so strong. By the end of the movie, I trusted him so much.”

In February 2023, Grey told PEOPLE that she always cries when watching Dirty Dancing now, admitting, “It gets me every time.”

“It feels like I’m living it when I’m watching it. And then I’m realizing that Patrick is gone,” she said.

Jennifer Grey Says She and Patrick Swayze 'Never Rehearsed' Their Iconic Dirty Dancing Lift Before Filming
Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze at the premiere of Dirty Dancing in New York City on Aug. 17, 1987.JIM SMEAL/RON GALELLA COLLECTION VIA GETTY IMAGES 

As for the lift scene, which has become one of the most recognizable moments in the movie, choreographer Kenny Ortega told PEOPLE back in 2017 that Grey “worked very hard, and it showed.”

“Because she was an untrained dancer, the lifts were actually big moments for her personally,” he said. “She was aspiring to do them as an individual, not just as a character. She brought that to the role, and her reactions were so genuine and honest.”

But would the film have worked the same with anyone other than Swayze and Grey? Ortega, now 73, doesn’t think so, he told

“It would have been a different film,” he said at the time. “The chemistry would have been different. It wouldn’t have been what it was. I can’t imagine it with anyone but the two of them. It was magical.”

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