Elderly Dancer Matches Steps With Her Younger Self On Screen
Joshua Patton 12/4/2018
When you learn a dance routine, especially for something important, could you remember it step for step after three quarters of a century?
That's what one 93-year-old woman did at the National Jitterbug Championships. It all started inconspicuously enough when the project screen rolled down to in front of where the band sat. Instead of listening to music performed live, they were going to watch a performance.
However, instead of one from this year or this decade, the dance routine they showed came from a time much further back. It was during the time of the Second World War, and the scene showcased was one in which a young, female dancer switches back and forth between two partners, one an Army soldier and the other a Sailor.
Yet, what made this somewhat stranger is that while the film played out, a trio walked onto the dance floor to perform with the clip.
It all makes sense when you realize, however, that the 19-year-old woman in the clip is the same woman performing the steps live! Her name is Jean Phelps Veloz, and she is a living connection from today to the days of movies like this one.
Called Swing Fever, the film came out on November 1, 1943 which is seventy-five years past the time of this writing. The film, light on story, features a number of cameo appearances from famous figures of the day.
The dance number starring Jean lives on, though mostly because Jean lives on and is still able to do the routine matching her movements to her younger self's.
Jean got her start with dancing in the early 1940s, and then her family moved to sunny California in 1942. She entered a contest at the American Legion Stadium in Hollywood, and she surprised everyone by winning it and this role.
Her appearance in Swing Fever was her first on-screen, but it certainly wasn't her last. After that film she appeared in a number of other pictures for MGM Studios. One iconic short, Groovie Movie, is studied by swing dancers even to this day.
Eventually, Jean caught the eye of legendary dancer Frank Veloz, who hired her and then he eventually married her. Jean thought she'd retire, but she couldn't stay away from dancing for long.
Now a nonagenarian, Jean has performed this routine a number of times in recent years. Along with this performance, she and her two companions did the routine on Little Big Shots on NBC.
After the performance, the audience in the small auditorium went crazy for Jean. While the veteran swing dancer and Lindy Hop legend is certainly used to this sort of praise and admiration, it is clear from the expression on her face that she still appreciates it.
Watch the full routine in the video below - it's obvious she's still got it!