Artist spotlight: Dancer overcomes disabilities to pursue career
It was a cold day, Dec. 13 1962, the day Zoot Velasco was born. A blizzard had shrouded Pennsylvania and he had a cold, his parents feared would turn into pneumonia.
Ten days later, he suffered burns over 80 percent of his body when a vaporizer caught fire next to his crib. As a priest performed the last rites, the infant Velasco began to breath again.
Velasco spent his first five years hospitalized. He had more than 300 surgeries during that time and lost all the muscles in his right foot. His life’s journey to become a professional dancer, who appeared in a music video with Prince and an MTV special with Michael Jackson, as well as a longtime prison arts instructor and successful arts administrator, has been an eventful one.
While growing up, Velasco’s family moved 13 times before he graduated from high school. He spent time in Virginia, New York, Ohio, California and his native Pennsylvania.
Riverside’s Zoot Velasco participated in the arts in corrections program at Wasco State Prison in Kern County. (Photo courtesy of Zoot Velasco)
Riverside’s Zoot Velasco found work as a mime, seen here in 1988. (Photo courtesy of Zoot Velasco)
Zoot Velasco, of Riverside (Photo courtesy of Zoot Velasco)
Riverside’s Zoot Velasco has worked as a live mannequin, seen here in 1988. (Photo courtesy of Zoot Velasco)
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“I liked moving,” says the now 55-year-old, who recently moved […]