Hurleyville impresses ‘Dirty Dancing’ crowd

By Amanda Loviza

HURLEYVILLE – More than 100 people gathered in the Hurleyville Arts Centre on Saturday, July 22, to enjoy the old favorite, “Dirty Dancing,” and be regaled by local legend Jackie Horner with wild tales of life at the Catskills resorts. The feedback seemed unanimous—it was a great day in Hurleyville.

The dancers of Heidi Latsky Dance represent a variety of bodies and disabilities, promoting inclusion in the world of dance. The dance company is the Hurleyville Arts Centre’s artist in residence, and put on a fashion show as part of H.A.C.’s “Dirty Dancing” celebration on July 22. PHOTO BY AMANDA LOVIZA

The dance-themed day started with an outdoor, all-body inclusive fashion show featuring the dancers of Heidi Latsky Dance, this year’s artist-in-residence at H.A.C. The 3-D printed and crocheted outfits were designed by NuVu high school students and designers Anna Kathleen Little and Susan Obrant. The dancing models strutted to music from the soundtrack of “Dirty Dancing,” and the show ended with dancers pulling community members to their feet and enjoying an enthusiastic dance party.

Sandy and Ted Dickson jumped into the merriment, and afterward said how impressed they are with the transformation of Hurleyville. The couple lives in Manhattan and keeps a weekend house in Harris. They heard about the event on the radio on their way up, Mrs. Dickson said, and made plans to attend at the last minute. It was well worth it, Mrs. Dickson said.

“It was beautiful,” Mrs. Dickson said of the fashion show.

The couple has been to Hurleyville before, but it looks completely different from even last year, Mr. Dickson said. They walked to the Hurleyville Market and checked out Gallery 222. He admired the new sidewalks and the overall energy of the hamlet.

“You did a metamorphosis here between last year and this year,” Mr. Dickson said.

Community members joined the dancers of Heidi Latsky Dance for an impromptu dance party following an outdoor fashion show on July 22. PHOTO BY AMANDA LOVIZA

Mrs. Dickson said she loved seeing how the town is coming along, and they will definitely be visiting again, hopefully with more people in tow.

“We’re going to have to drag more of our friends here,” Mrs. Dickson said.

The Pickled Owl served sliders and hotdogs while people enjoyed socializing outside the arts center before the film screening began. The Hurleyville Maker’s Lab had a table set up to let visitors know they can create their own projects, like the creative fashion show outfits, on the 3-D printer inside the maker’s lab. The Sullivan County Historical Society had a table in the arts center lobby displaying memorabilia from several local resorts, like Grossinger’s and Kutsher’s.

Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Luis Alvarez introduced Ms. Horner, his own former dance teacher who taught dance lessons at Grossinger’s Resort from 1954 to 1986 and famously taught Eleanor Bergstein, the screenwriter for “Dirty Dancing” and the real-life “Baby.” Ms. Horner is seen as the inspiration behind the movie character Penny.

The inspiration for the film’s title came from one night when Ms. Horner was teaching tango, she told the audience. An actor’s visiting manager told Ms. Horner her pupils were dancing too closely.

“I told him, ‘When you’re dancing tango, you dance close,’” Ms. Horner said.

“He said, ‘No, they’re dancing dirty.’”

The Hurleyville Arts Centre theater was nearly full on July 22 as visitors gathered to watch “Dirty Dancing” and hear Liberty resident Jackie Horner talk about life teaching dance lessons at Grossinger’s Resort. PHOTO BY AMANDA LOVIZA

It was only the second time Ms. Horner watched the film, after living the real stories. They could have written a movie about every summer, Ms. Horner said. She talked about what life was like at Grossinger’s and other resorts, and offered to teach anyone the choreography of the famous final dance between Baby and Johnny.

Beth and Howard Karson, and their friends Sandy Autorino and Alicia Yanez, have seen the film plenty of times, but they came to Hurleyville just to hear Ms. Horner’s stories. The Karsons came out from Peekskill after reading about the event online, and Mrs. Karson said it was beautifully done. Hurleyville Arts Centre is a beautiful place, she said, and she hopes it is successful.

Ms. Autorino and Ms. Yanez have a home in Rock Hill, and were thrilled with the event.

“We think this was just wonderful,” Ms. Autorino said.

She said they will also plan to spend more time in Hurleyville in the future.

“We’re going to try to get all our friends to come,” Ms. Autorino said.

Judith Garfinkel, a dancer with Heidi Latsky Dance, models during an inclusive outdoor fashion show set to the music of “Dirty Dancing” outside Hurleyville Arts Centre on July 22. PHOTO BY AMANDA LOVIZA