NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Over the decades, Norfolk native Deon Ridley danced his way from Lambert’s Point and Park Place all the way to Broadway and beyond.
Ridley has performed in “Damn Yankees,” “Fame,” “Cats,” “The Lion King,” and numerous other productions. In Las Vegas, he served as Celine Dion’s lead dancer, and on September 10, 2001, he was on stage with Michael Jackson at Madison Square Garden in New York.
His skills on the dance floor are still in high demand along the “Great White Way” and overseas.
“I just recently played, “Chicago the Musical,” in Israel and we closed in Japan, so it’s just been a career going around the world,” said Ridley in an interview from his family’s home in Norfolk.
In the duplex, built by his great-grandfather in the Lambert’s Point section of Norfolk, Ridley had the most significant performance of his career.
Last Sunday, Ridley had just returned from New York when there was a crisis in the kitchen. His 8-year-old niece was standing with her grandfather when a piece of hard candy slipped down her throat.
“When I was talking, for some reason, it, just slipped down my throat and I was starting to cough,” said Naomi Ridley.
“I started hitting her in the back and that wasn’t doing anything,” said grandfather Cory Humphries.
The Broadway star sprang into action to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
“So I got up and she came [toward me] and I turned her around immediately and took my arm underneath her above the belly button and right below her rib cage. I put my hand over like this and I gave her one compression up and then I did another one and a little hard and right when I did that compression, the piece of candy came out and landed on the floor,” Ridley said.
Naomi’s mother, who has an infant, rushed to the kitchen when she heard the commotion.
“By the time I got actually to [the kitchen] the candy had hit the floor. I am grateful, I cannot imagine him not being here, said the child’s mother.
The Broadway veteran who serves as a dance instructor around the country has advice for families in his hometown.
“Go online. There are tons of YouTube videos to teach you how to do the Heimlich maneuver
If the situation [choking] does happen, stay calm, and act quickly and calmly. I think that will help the situation.
The rescues don’t end there. On Wednesday, Deon witnessed an accident in Virginia Beach involving a truck and a motorcycle. He rushed to the scene to assist the motorcyclist, who appeared to have non life-threatening injuries.
Stay tuned, as they say in show business.
Next month, Deon will serve as choreographer for the production of a Tony award-winning show at a private Virginia Beach school.