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The iconic lift was the first thing the Ottos tried, back when they were engaged. They are pictured showing off the technique in New York while Broadway dancers back them up. (Submitted photo by Alex Zimmer)
The iconic lift was the first thing the Ottos tried, back when they were engaged. They are pictured showing off the technique in New York while Broadway dancers back them up. (Submitted photo by Alex Zimmer)

Dance video gone viral spreads joy across the nation

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Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

Last Friday morning, a Hastings native and her new husband were featured on national television, dancing live on ABC’s Good Morning America.

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Terra and Drake Otto had performed the famous last dance from the film “Dirty Dancing” at their wedding reception in August. It was back on their second date that the couple found out they both loved the movie, Drake said, and that they both grew up watching it over and over. Terra watched it so much the VHS tape it was on broke.

After they got engaged, they found themselves watching the movie again and, as a joke, decided to try the lift themselves. Terra had taken dance lessons as a girl from Jan’s School of Dance, but Drake had absolutely no professional training. They practiced at the foot of the bed, so that Terra would have a soft landing when she fell.

“We kept doing it and we finally got it,” Drake said.

With the wedding approaching, Drake bought Terra dance lessons so they could learn the whole routine and perform it for their family and friends, who already knew the couple’s history with the film.

“We really honestly just did it for our families and friends and to get our wedding dance started,” Terra said.

15 minutes of fame

What the Ottos never expected was that their video would explode into a national phenomenon.

Their videographer had the video on his website and social media pages, and it slowly started gaining momentum over the weeks following the wedding. Then, in early November, it caught the attention of KARE 11. The next day, Terra got a call from a number in New York while she was at work. She figured it was a telemarketer, she said, so she let it go to voicemail. When she listened to the message over lunch, she found it was Good Morning America asking to have them on the show that same Friday.

“I immediately called Drake right away and he did not believe it,” Terra said.

At first, she wasn’t sure if she could do it because of her work, she said, but Drake and her manager convinced her.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Drake had said.

“You can’t get much bigger than Good Morning America,” Terra said.

They got a practice session at their dance studio Wednesday to brush up on their skills.

“I was actually surprised at how fast it came back to us,” Terra said.

ABC flew the couple to New York Thursday evening and set them up in a hotel right in Times Square. Terra’s mother, Lynn Chorney; her sister, Nicole Chorney; and her grandmother, Alice Chorney, were able to make the trip as well, which made it all that much more special.

Thursday evening they met with a group of Broadway dancers who were serving as backup dancers. Nicole also got to join them as part of the group, and she had to quickly learn a different version that what was done at the wedding.

Friday started early, getting to the studio lobby by 5:30 a.m. to prepare for a 6 a.m. rehearsal. By 9 or 9:30 a.m., it was all over.

“The morning just went really fast and was a blur,” Terra said.

They didn’t end up doing the whole routine live, but they did do the lift everyone’s loved so much.

“It was so fun,” Terra said. “The performance was awesome. We ended up nailing it.”

The segment itself was shorter than originally planned; something had happened with the show’s scheduling, so it had to be cut down, but Good Morning America told the Ottos they would send them a DVD of the original segment.

“The whole experience was just awesome,” Terra said. “ABC was so nice to us.”

Once the performance was done, the Ottos got a little taste of celebrity life. People stopped them to have pictures taken with them, and since they’ve been back in Minnesota, they keep running into people who have seen them dance.

But while the hype has wildly grown – their wedding video had less than 2,000 views Nov. 5 and now has more than 200,000 – Drake and Terra are just excited that the dance is still accomplishing what they set out to do in the first place. The one thing their wedding dance video doesn’t show, he said, is how pumped everyone there got when they saw the dance. Even now, the most common comments they hear are how happy it makes the people who watched it.

“That’s really what the goal was in the beginning,” Terra added, “and now coming out of this, that’s what people comment on.”

“It wasn’t so much about the dance – the actual moves we did,” Drake said. “It was really about how happy it made everybody and how much fun everyone had.”

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Katrina Styx has been a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette since 2010. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Prior to coming to Hastings, Katrina reported for weekly newspapers in Jordan, Minn., and River Falls, Wis.
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