German students take their dirndl, lederhosen to state competition

photo or infographic by Will Nye
Members of the German Folk Dance group practice before their performance at HoustonFest.

photo or infographic by Will Nye
German teacher Lisa Parrott dances at GermanFest. The festival is held each year at The Heights High School for students studying German.

The German Folk Dance group joins in on the fun at Rudy Lechner’s after Germanfest.

photo or infographic by Will Nye
Preparing for competition senior Juliann Wallet practices with the dance group.

Houstonfest is a competition where German students use their skills in anything German.

It took all of the members of the German Folk Dance group to prepare for the event. They all came together, and they didn’t care about what dance skill they had. The only thing that mattered was the fun of it. 

And it paid off…the group will compete at the Texas State German Contest on March 29, 2020 at Texas State University in San Marcos.

“I mean I thought we were going to make last place, but it took me by surprise when they called out our group as 4th place,’’ freshman Cecilia Medina said.

The folk dance team will be joined by senior Will Nye who qualified for his logo design. 

“I entered the photography competition,” Nye said. “I took photos of my friend in a traditional German dress. My photography did not place, but I am submitting my digital logo from last year to state.”

Many people think at first that HoustonFest is a huge festival in Houston because of the name. It is actually held at the Heights High School. It was founded in 1980 as a competition for Houston-area students in German I, II ,III or IV. Over 500 students from 21 schools entered this year.

“I thought Houstonfest was a huge festival,” Medina said. “I didn’t know at the time, and when we entered that high school, I was so confused. At first, I was overthinking everything. I was so nervous because this was the first time I ever came to something like this.” 

The state-bound folk dance group was created by senior Juliann Wallett. She entered many events at Germanfest, and she will compete at state with the dance group and in German spelling. She started the dance group in Willis to share German culture with her classmates.

“I started the group at Willis because I met many dancers who had started groups for their own schools,” she said.  “I love dancing and German culture, and I wanted to share the experience with Willis German students.”

Other German students joining Medina and Wallett are junior Jeanine Davie, senior Pricila Suarez, sophomore Mason Trahan, sophomore Douglas Fairbanks and freshman Justice Mitchell.

According to Wallett, the group will be ready for state on Saturday. They will be wearing costumes purchased with a grant from the Houston Saengerbund.

“To prepare for state, we’re putting in lots of practice hours and working on completing our traditional costumes,” Wallet said. “I’ve personally had to tailor our dirndl (dresses) and fix up the guy’s lederhosen (leather pants).”