Alumna donation keeps dancing spirit alive
Houstonian native Patsy Swayze, who trained her late son actor Patrick Swayze on his way to “Dirty Dancing” fame, was a resident choreographer at a number of local institutions and taught dance at the University for 18 years. She died at age 86 in September.
Among those many dance students was alumna Judy Jones. Jones worked for Swayze at her private studio and studied under her while a student at UH.
Judy and her husband Walter launched the Patsy Swayze Scholarship Endowment at the School of Theatre and Dance. The endowment was created with an initial gift of $25,000, which will support the scholarship for UH dance students.
“She was always so excited about working with people. That’s how she was all the time; enthusiastic about her work. When you’re a student of Patsy’s, you’re a part of her family. Her family was always at the dance studio,” Jones said.
“Her daughter, her sons — they were coming and going. Her husband was the kindest person. You get spiked up in her energy and enthusiasm. Appreciation for movement, life and action: That was Patsy.”
With Swayze’s ever growing influence on Jones, Jones decided to give back.
“It’s very inspiring to know that people want to give back because of their experiences at UH,” said dance senior Amber Baker. “Great people come from Houston, and I’m definitely proud to be a student in the UH School of Theater and Dance. I hope the scholarship from Judy and Walter Jones will continue to help provide dance education to those in need.”
Baker was not alone in her inspiration by Jones.
“I look up to Mrs. Jones because she shows us dancers that you can be a successful dancer, wife and philanthropist if you stick to your goals and work hard,” said dance senior and Zumba teacher Alma White.
“Her legacy at UH will live on and continually inspire dancers like me to strive for excellence.”