Words by Rick Mauch | Photography by LP Taylor Photography

The very first recital in 1980 featured around 50 students, Vicki said. Today, she has around 184, ranging in age from 2 to adult.

     “This beautiful redhead, who was also named Vickie, was about to move to New York for Broadway and she said she couldn’t have too many students because pieces of the ceiling would fall into people’s food who were eating in the restaurant,” Vicki said with a laugh.
     So Vicki decided to open her own studio. It was originally called the Acton School of Dance because, well, it was in Acton for the first few years, in several different buildings. It is now, and has long been renamed Miss Vicki’s School of Dance and is located at 215 N. Plaza Dr. in Granbury.
     The very first recital in 1980 featured around 50 students, Vicki said. Today, she has around 184, ranging in age from 2 to adult.
     “For 12 years we had a wonderful group of tap dancers who were in their mid-50s to 83. They were great,” Vicki said.
     Of that group of students are about 14 special needs dancers from the Granbury Cheetahs Special Olympics team, she said.
     “Everybody loves them. They always get tons of ap-

plause,” Vicki said. “We started with a handful, and now we have a lot. The whole dance family loves them.”
     Family is a key word when describing Vicki’s dance studio, or her connection with the Granbury SEALS Swim Team, for whom she is both a competitor and an assistant coach. “I am so blessed to be a part of both of these wonderful families in dance and swimming,” she said.
     Of course, her favorite family is the one that includes three children and seven grandchildren. In fact, her granddaughter Braylee, age 12, helps her in the dance studio, while her daughter Christa Ragland (Braylee’s mother) is a fellow member of the SEALS.
     “Braylee has already said she’s looking at colleges that teach dance,” Vicki said.
     All four children of Christa and her husband Wes, including sons Triston (14), Aiden (13), and Lucas (5) are on the SEALS as they live in Tolar. Vicki’s daugh- ter April Kramer and husband Jim live in Frisco and have a daughter, Lexi, who is going to play softball at Louisiana Tech.

     “The first time Clyde saw her on the field, he said, ‘That’s our ballplayer, right there,'” Vicki said. “And he was right. She is fantastic.”
     Son Bill and his wife Holly live in Welsh, Louisiana. They have two daughters, 8-year-old Leighton and 5-year-old Lily.
     “I’m a really Mimi. That’s my third job,” Vicki said with a laugh. “It’s also my favorite. I call them my lucky seven.”
     Vicki grew up dancing in a musical family. Her father played a variety of instruments, including trumpet, in the Air Force Band for many years, while her siblings were also all musically inclined.
     “Dance was my thing,” she said. “I’ve loved it my whole life.”
     Even a bout with uterine cancer couldn’t stop Vicki. She was diagnosed in 2017 and declared cancer-free earlier this year.
     In fact, she would not begin treatment until her studio’s summer recital was held.
     “My doctor said, ‘This is a first. We’re waiting on a dance recital to start treatment,'” she said, chuckling.
     Not only that, she swam while undergoing treatment. And she won a pair of gold medals in record-setting fashion in the 60-Over category at the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Summer Games of Texas in 2018.
     “My port was under the skin, so it was okay to swim,” she said. “By the time summer came around, I said, ‘I’m feeling up to it, so I’m going to swim.”
     She set state records in the 50-yard freestyle and the 50-yard breaststroke.
     “I got to meet and have my picture taken with the lady whose record I broke,” Vicki said. “It was such an exciting moment, and she said she was so proud of me.”
     This is Vicki’s 23rd year as part of the SEALS and her dear friend Janet Steenberge, whom she met when Janet walked into the studio one day to enroll her children in dance. Vicki soon joined the SEALS as a competitor the first year, becoming an assistant coach the next.
     “We raised our kids together, kind of,” Vicki said. “And now she’s got a grandbaby. I’m so happy for her.
     “I love coaching and competing. It’s a lot easier to coach when you do it yourself. They can relate better if I get in the water and do it with them.”

Her studio will celebrate 40 years next year, and she’s already making plans for the event. She hopes it will include second- and perhaps even third-generation dancers, with mother-daughter routines.

     Janet also vividly remembers the day she met Vicki, the first step toward establishing the friendship of a lifetime.
     “I cherish my friendship with Vicki. She is such a wonderful part of my life,” Janet said. “Georgia (Janet’s daughter) wanted to try dancing, and I wanted some- thing fun for my kids – and Vicki is so much fun.”
     As much as Vicki likes to win, competing isn’t at the heart of her success. In fact, while her students perform several recitals each year (Christmas, spring, and summer in nursing homes), they do not enter competition, unlike most other studios.
     “My kids do it because they love it,” she said. “We dance for the passion. That’s why I’m still here 39

years later.”
     Her studio will celebrate 40 years next year, and
she’s already making plans for the event. She hopes it will include second- and perhaps even third-genera- tion dancers, with mother-daughter routines.
     “We talked about bringing back as many dancers as we can,” she said. “The third generation is coming in. My granddaughter dances and it makes me very proud.
     “I remember the year I had my 25th anniversary, my dance teacher in Meridian had her 50th anniver- sary. When you’re a dancer, it stays with you for life.”
     Ditto for swimming. Barely in school when she be- gan, she learned from her father to appreciate the sport

for a lifetime. He did, especially after using it to help him recover from a severely injured back.
     “Swimming was his recovery,” Vicki said. “He really valued swimming and what it does for the body.”
     Vicki lost Clyde in 2012 to a stroke. Like her, he was a battler, overcoming throat cancer and a previous stroke.
     “We knew it was coming. He’d been talking to his mom in his dreams,” she said. “He was my biggest cheerleader for 34 years, and I know he’s up there still shouting.”
     Janet said Vicki is like a “cheerleader in life.”
     “She’s positive, outgoing, an example for me and so many others. She just perseveres through anything. So many people would curl up in a ball, but not Vicki,” Janet said.
     Meanwhile, Vicki continues to give Clyde plenty to shout about. And she plans to keep on doing so for as long as she is able.
     “Why would I stop? I love both dancing and swim- ming, and I’m still able to do both well,” Vicki said. “I don’t see myself giving up either one anytime soon.”