To dance is to tell a story; each turn a new chapter, each movement a reflection of peaks and valleys. To dance is to enliven tales that may not otherwise be told, so today, let us dance with Caroline Velek as we tell her story.
Velek is a senior at Friendswood High School and the Grand Marshal of the Wranglerettes. The curtain rose on Velek’s dance career when she decided to stop playing softball and get involved with the dance company Star Steppers when she was in seventh-grade.
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The technique and the skills of some of the girls at my studio – some even younger than me – blew my mind,” Velek said. “I didn’t make a ton of dances, but honestly, it motivated me to work harder outside of practice and outside of the studio.”
Her hard worked paid off and a few years later, Velek earned a spot on the Wranglerettes.
“In a way, she was somewhat of an underdog because she started to dance a little bit later, but over time, her true colors showed and she was the perfect leader,” Alyssa Goza, Wranglerettes instructor, said.
Goza credits Velek’s talent to her love of dance and “incredible work ethic.”
“Her love for dance and her love for the organization is undeniable,” Goza said. “It shows in her dancing, it shows in her leadership, it shines through her. When you watch her dance, you’re locked in and you watch her for the whole routine.”
Perhaps this ability to captivate her audience comes from Velek’s attention to putting everything she has into each and every dance.
“You almost get to be a different character, whether it’s jazz and you get to be sassy or contemporary when you’re taking emotion and putting it into a storyline,” Velek said. “It’s a performance. It’s putting your heart into something that’s also a movement.”
Her dedication has earned Velek the WOW girl title, the highest-ranking officer position, and top awards at regional, state and national competitions. Despite all of her success, Velek has remained humble and focused on what is best for the team.
“She puts the team before herself,” Goza said. “She makes practice so much fun and her passion is contagious. The team respects her and follows her lead.”
Velek said her leadership style comes from her past experiences with Wranglerette leadership.
“This year, I wanted to make sure it was the best year possible, especially for my sister who is a sophomore Wranglerette,” Velek said. “I know how special my first year was and I wanted to make that happen for her too.”
The sisters actually had a duet together this past competition season. That was something Velek considered to be “super special,” especially considering the duet was undefeated at all competitions.
Additionally, the team had plenty of success throughout the season, including coming home as National Champions from the MA National Dance Competition on March 22.
“The chemistry of this team is so amazing,” Velek said. “Our hard work pays off, and even when it doesn’t, even when we lose, we have amazing experiences at competitions because we just love being with each other.”
As her last season as a Wranglerette comes to an end, Velek reflected back on who got her to where she is today, stating Goza and her Star Steppers dance teacher, Kristi Morrison, have had the biggest influence on her.
“Mrs. Goza has definitely had the biggest impact on my dance career,” Velek said. “She’s pushed me farther than I ever thought I could go, and she’s really been there to support my every decision I’ve made, especially this year.”
“[Morrison’s] creativity and being my mentor have definitely influenced the way I’ve been a leader,” she said. “She actually still choreographs my solos.”
Velek’s last performance as a Wranglerette will be during the Spring Show on April 26 and 27, and though the curtain will close on this phase of her dancing career, Velek said she is determined to make the dance team at Texas A&M where she will be studying business in the Fall.
Goza stated she is thrilled Velek will continue to dance in college.
“She is phenomenal,” Goza said. “She’s going to rule the world.”