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Cheerleader of the Week: Vanessa


Third-year veteran Vanessa spent one season with the Houston Rockets before joining the Texans.

Texans Cheerleader of the Week Vanessa brings exceptional technique to the squad. The third-year veteran from Sugarland joined the Texans Cheerleaders after a year of dancing for the Houston Rockets, and she brought the qualities of an NBA dancer with her.

Cheerleader services manager Alto Gary remembers that Vanessa's technical style set her apart from day one.

"What stood out about Vanessa at tryouts was obviously her dance because she came from an NBA team, so they're going to have a stronger dance background," Gary said. "When you're there at our dance tryouts, there's like 2,000 girls and you need to sparkle in some way shape or form. Her technique is what got me because she's a technically trained dancer and she was precise in her movements."

That technical training extends far beyond Vanessa's one year in the NBA, though. She learned to dance at Cookie Joe's Dancing School in Sugarland, where she was a student under Joe's instruction for seven years.

There, a young Vanessa and her classmates were able to perform at several of Houston's premier facilities.

"They're not just performing; they're able to walk on stages that are historical, where people from Broadway and classical ballet companies and dance companies from all over the nation have danced on those very same stages," Joe said of her students. "My dancers would be in the hallway lined up, little two-year-old ballerinas, and the Houston Ballet will be walking by. And that emphasis to realize that 'I can do that' and teaching to believe in yourself…(we'd do) just anything to inspire a child that you, too, can do this, and I think that's really important to us."

{QUOTE}The next step for Vanessa after Cookie Joe's was Stephen F. Austin High School in Sugarland, where she would go on to be a member of the Angels dance team for three years.

Though Vanessa says the Texans Cheerleaders' style of dance is much more jazzy than that of the Angels, she credits her high school teacher, Betsy Heathcock, with imparting to her the technique and showmanship necessary for success in her future dance endeavors.

Heathcock said that even in high school, Vanessa had exceptional ability for showmanship, which is a natural aspect of dancing that Heathcock said is one of hardest things to teach students. She isn't surprised that Vanessa used what she learned in high school to have a thriving dance career.

"It just makes me feel proud that another one of my students has been successful in the area of dance," Heathcock said.

After her years under Heathcock, Vanessa was a member of the dance team at TCU before joining the Rockets and then the Texans. The dance style formed by years of coaching from Cookie Joe, Heathcock, her TCU instructors and her year in the NBA has been a big hit with Vanessa's Texans Cheerleaders teammates.

"Vanessa is an amazing dancer," Lindsay said. "I love to watch her dance. She's very clean, very sharp. She is definitely one of the ones that I try to emulate and that I look at and try to learn from. She's amazing."

Fellow third-year veteran Teresa, a high school dance teacher herself, agreed.

"She and I actually danced together in the same line, and every time she's in front of me moving it, I'm trying to mock her movements and try to be just as big as her," Teresa said.

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