His spins were so quick he earned the nick name "White Lightning." But this dynamic dancer would experience a turn in his dance career that wasn't choreographed. George Velazquez was the victim of a horrific automobile accident that took him in a new direction. His will power and determination never diminished as he continues to be a dance inspiration to others.
As a young boy growing up in the heart of New York, George was always dancing.
"At home there was always dancing and, being Hispanic, salsa, which is what they call it today, was in the house hold so I always remember dancing and how easy it came to me." In 1971 just out of high school, George hung out at clubs like the Rum Bottom and Habitat in Long Island. After seeing a dance contest he developed the competitive dance bug. "There was a tall couple Ritchie and Stephanie and Craig Yee and Cindy Wafsi. Cindy could spin like a top.. the girls started to teach me the basic steps. I caught on very quick and Craig and I became well known and popular in the dance clubs. An agent spotted the guys and they were hired to perform and tour for the next two years with singing star "Andre True Connection." George was only 18 years old. Initially the dance team consisted of Craig, Hillary, Mia and George. But during the second year the troop reformed and two new dancers were recruited (Linda Rodriquez and Barbara Percopio) the new girls "knocked everybody's socks off."
When the tour was complete it was back to the clubs and competitions. "My first contest was at Habitat on Hempsted Turnpike. Thats where I met Chuck Fetta, Tony Genova, Billy and Sandra, Angel Figueroa, David Elkin, Ralph and Lucille Lew, Ray and Loraina, Holly and Linda, Danny and Javiar, Maria Torres, John Allisino" From there he moved onto some big contests held at Penrods, Chaz, Decamerons, Rum Bottoms, Cherries, Uncle Sams, Feathers, Poor Peters..... George took first place at 3 major competitions in Long Island ..Chaz, Decamerons, and Penrods. His boat had arrived. With an out going personality and big smile... the opportunities kept coming.
From 1975 to 1981, George joined the Ralph Lew Dance Company. " I had a dance partner named Ann Boccino, she and I brought the entire crowd at Madison Square Gardens to their feet in a standing ovation when we finished our segment of the show. This was for the Harvest Moon Ball."
Together with partner Gail Bloom, they performed at many of the major hotels thru out the Catskills and won a competition to perform on the syndicated TV show "Dance Fever." George was grateful for the national television exposure although they didn't win. After taking dance lessons in technical ballroom and theater dance, George landed a spot in the touring company for "A Choirs Line." This was one of his biggest dance highlights.
But a freak accident would occur after leaving a night club and his car stalled. After pushing his car to safety he lost his finger when the car hood came crashing down.
But the show went on, he had developed an incredible following and agents ran to him for his male burlesque review. From 1980 to 1990, "George White Lightning" had a 10 year booking in the Catskills. Along with dance partner Gail, he became the opening act for some of the top entertainers in the country. George was at the top of his game when tragedy struck again. In 1994 he was the victim of a hit and run accident. George would go thru multiple operations but the doctors were unable to save his full leg. He lost his knee on down. "After I lost my leg, I did a competition in Texas to see how far I could go. Well, without any one knowing (I was missing a leg), I came in 3rd. Then at the very end when we were asked to do our honor dance, I took my leg off and silence came upon the room... then a loud thunder took my breath away as people jumped to there feet and my dance partner Lady Farris was there with me. She was my therapy back to dancing." George continued to compete but he literally trashed his leg. "Fast turns, 12 hours a day dancing and swelling caused additional problems." Additional surgery would require virtually the whole leg to be removed due to infection. He had come so far. George performed on Don Kirshner's Rock concert with The Andrea True Connection, "Dance Fever," The Phil Donahue Show with Chuck Fetta, Gail Bloom and Marie, "Star Search" where he performed a solo tap dance. In 1996, he was asked to do the shows for all the Paralimpians that came into the US from all over the world. "I had a running show for close to 7 months."
Today, George judges competitions (he took his judges exam) and teaches Latin, coaches and also does Choreography for the able bodied as well as for dancers in wheelchairs. "I work with the disable or anyone who has lost a limb... the idea is to let them know that life goes on after amputation. I belong to the largest amputee group in the US, the ACA, ( Amputee coalition of America )."
"My dance goal is to dance with all my old buddies from way back when. I have done most of what I wanted to do on 2 legs now with one leg all I want to do is let everyone know life is not all that easy, But I am OK and one day soon we need to all get together and dance the night away" expresses George.
Saying he is great, would be an understatement. George continues to inspire others and make his visions a reality.