boy-boy, girl-girl dance-off. The finalists, as it turned out, were Franny and
Yolanda versus Frank and his friend, Auggie.
Yolanda and Franny were declared the winners, and Frank was so
enraged he walked over and grabbed the trophy from Yolanda’s hand
and proceeded to go into a complicated dance to show Yolanda what
dancing was all about. “Yolanda,” Frank would say many years later,
“stuck to me like flypaper,” and upon finishing the dance she snatched
back her trophy.
Later, he tracked her down in Little Italy and soon after they began
dancing as a couple.
The first act tells that story and follows the couple’s success and Frank’s
run-ins with Dutch Schultz, the mobster that owned the Embassy Club in
New York City and whom Frank worked for. When Frank accepted a gig at
another club without clearing it with Schultz, he was severely and physically
reprimanded by the gangster. But success followed success and before
long Veloz & Yolanda were as big as Frank’s childhood idol, dancer Tony
DeMarco and his latest partner. Then, even bigger, the biggest.
End Of An Era
Guy says that one of the reasons he wanted to write this piece “was
not to just bring back my parents, but to bring back this entire era that’s
been lost to history.”
Veloz & Yolanda’s final appearance at the Hollywood Bowl in June,
1948, marked not only the end of their dancing partnership, but also the
end of the world they had known. It was a gloomy night; the stage was
slippery. They performed their magic in the mist in front of the largest
audience the Bowl had ever seen. At the end of their show, the audience
failed to respond. There was just a murmur in the crowd and no applause.
The dancers left the stage depressed, believing they had disappointed their
fans. They learned later that the audience was stunned by the couple’s
performance and apparently found it difficult to believe that it was over.
Not only did Veloz & Yolanda slip away, but the entire era seemed to have
vanished that night. Not long afterwards, many of the big bands collapsed;
people stopped dressing in white ties and tails; supper clubs faded; then
came rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis, the Beatles. It really was all over.
Where To Now?
When asked how long we may have to wait to see a finished product
in the form of a full-on Broadway production or movie, Guy responds
that he wants to see it “while I’m still alive.”
The guessing around here is that Veloz will most probably get
his wish, that once this production is seen in New York City (it was
showcased at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center at 248 West 60
St., around the corner from Lincoln Center, on Wednesday, November 14.
as part of a State Street Ballet showcase), it will excite others to help find a
“The show is a hybrid of theater and dance and we think there is a
lot of potential in that,” Michael says. “On occasion, lightning strikes,” he