Woodlands High School German Dance Team wins state title
For the second year in a row, The Woodlands High School German Dance team won first place in the Folk Dance contest in the annual Texas State German Contest in February, in a competition that included students from more than 90 schools.
The school’s German Club as whole placed in many additional events as well, said teacher Trina Power.
Students from the regional contests-Houstonfest, Sprachfest and Winterfest-who place in the top five for each event then qualify to compete at the state competition.
German teachers at TWHS, including Steve Wynne, Laura Dunn, and Powers, built the German Program into one of the largest in the state, Powers said. The program offers a variety of cultural activities for the German students, including the folk dance, which has been in existence at TWHS since 2014.
Powers was a folk dance troupe teacher prior to coming to TWHS. When she came on board at TWHS, she asked her German students if they were interested in starting a folk dance group.
“I showed them some options that were available from dancing and some websites, and so we started practicing,” she said. “They realized how much fun it was so we decided it’d be great idea for the school, a good fit, and we decided to go with it.”
The group started off small, Powers said, with seven or eight students, but has since doubled in size.
“We’ve been gradually getting stronger and better,” she said. “We’ve only been dancing for four years, but the last two years we’ve been first place in states.”
Nick Galle is a senior at TWHS and co-president of the dance group. He has been on the team for three years at TWHS and three years prior at another school.
“I joined because of a bet from one of my friends,” Galle said. “He said he bet I wouldn’t do it.”
Galle’s friend lost the bet and was forced to buy Galle lunch the next day.
Galle said he was nervous about winning the state contest because the team lost a lot of veterans due to graduation. But the new dancers who joined were motivated, he said.
Co-president Shelby Wiecker is a senior and is in her third year on the team. She is also is a member of a professional folk dance troupe outside of school.
Wiecker said the German folk dance holds a particular nostalgia for her because of her grandfather’s recollection of stories of watching his parents dance. She said the team worked diligently to win the state championship this year.
“We had only four returning members this year, so it was really cool that we could teach [new members] everything in in and get it all polished,” Wiecker said.
Sophomore Caden Stott was a member of the German Club his freshman year and said the idea of joining German folk dancing was unfathomable one year ago because he said he did not know how to dance. But he decided to join after witnessing the dance group practicing.
“If you would have told me year ago I would have been German folk dancing, I would have looked at you like that was crazy, honestly,” Stott said. “I never imagined doing this because I have no rhythm or anything. I just kept coming back, and I love it.”
To raise funds, the group works with local fast food restaurants where the team will receive a percentage of sales. Powers said the team also gets funding through the Tomball German Heritage Market and the Houston-Leipzig Sister Sister Association. The costumes are paid for with the funds.
Senior Katy Nelson is co-president and in charge of the attire, the dirndl for women and lederhosen for men. She transferred to TWHS from College Park High School for the German program. She has also spent 10 years as a ballet dancer growing up.
Nelson said she loves the camaraderie of the dance group.
“We’re all super close,” Nelson said. “We spend so much time together. We practice for contests three times a week until 6 o’clock, so a lot of hours we spend together.”
Nelson said she was nervous about winning the championship.
“Being a senior I really wanted to win,” Nelson said. “When we got announced, I started crying. It was great.”
The team will be participating at the Tomball Heritage Festival on March 24, and spectators at the festival can expect to witness stunts from the dance group, which includes jumps and backflips, Nelson added.
Wiecker reflected on the experience of the dance team’s performances at various venues and how it affects their audiences.
“My grandparents get so excited watching us because it brings back memories,” Wiecker said. “One of the other guys (on the team)-his grandma cries every time she see us, so it’s kind of cool to see things like that.”