Once I saw Patrick Swayze lift Baby in ‘Dirty Dancing’ and Audrey Hepburn brave the dance floor with legendary tapper Fred Astaire in ‘Funny Face’ it was pretty easy to visualize these actors as former dancers. But can you picture an NFL defensive tackle or an indestructible cyborg practicing pirouettes? Here are 7 celebrities you never knew were dancers:
1. Christopher Walken, actor
A musical theater dancer, Christopher Walken trained a the Washington Dance Studio and later in his acting career, choreographed and performed in Fat Boy Slim’s music video ‘Weapon of Choice’.
2. Zoe Saldana, actress
Mastering ballet, jazz, and Latin dance at ECOS Espacio de Danza Dance Academy in the Dominican Republic, Zoe Saldana took her background in the performing arts and won her first role in the feature film, ‘Center Stage’.
3. Steve McLendon, defensive tackle of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Looking for some “easy” credit hours during his last year at Troy University, NFL powerhouse, Steve McLendon admits ballet is harder than anything he’s ever done. Ballet strengthened his body so much that he continues to train in the classic art to this day.
4. Tara Stiles, yogini
Before she started rocking the “Om” out of the yoga community, Tara Stiles (a native of Morris, Illinois) trained as a ballerina from an early age and then moved to Chicago to pursue dance. Her ballet instructor introduced her to yoga and very quickly Tara embraced the yogic lifestyle.
5. Zhang Ziyi, actress
A vision of elegance in martial arts films like ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and ‘House of Flying Dragons’, sword-swinging Zhang Ziyi used to kick butt on the stage as a folk dancer. Trained at Beijing Dance Academy, Zhang won a national youth dance championship at the age of fifteen. She got the acting bug soon after and left the dance scene.
6. Alexander Godunov, actor (aka – the blond German bad guy from ‘Die Hard’)
Trained at the legendary Bolshoi Ballet, Alexander Godunov defected to the United States in 1979 and joined the American Ballet Theatre where he performed until 1982. Alexander went on to pursue an acting career and starred in ‘Witness’ with Harrison Ford and then Hans Gruber’s henchman out to kill Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard’.
7. Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and politician
The former bodybuilder took ballet lessons during his time pumping iron in the 70s. While it’s not too farfetched imagining this muscular man as a relentless killing machine in ‘The Terminator’, I do have to admit it’s a stretch to visualize him perfecting his plié…
Live. Love. Dance.