By RANDY GONZALES
Special to Hays Post
Cassie Waldschmidt grew up in small-town America but had her sights set on bigger things.
Since graduating from Ellis High School in 2019, Waldschmidt has skydived in Australia, kayaked in Canada and gone snorkeling in the Caribbean. She has seen the sights in Spain and Tasmania and relaxed on beaches in Hawaii, French Polynesia and the Turks and Caicos Islands – and much, much more.
Waldschmidt, who considers herself the adventurous sort, knew from an early age she wanted to make a career out of dancing. So soon after graduating, she moved to Las Vegas to pursue her dream.
“I was a little nervous at first, especially when you move from a small town like Ellis,” Waldschmidt said. “I never drove in the city before. That stood out.”
After several dancing gigs (one-off performances), Waldschmidt landed a role in a Vegas show in December 2021.
“I was so excited,” Waldschmidt said. “I immediately started crying. I was so happy.”
“It felt like everything I was working for finally was coming to fruition,” she added. “Getting your first show – I can’t explain the feeling I had.”
But Waldschmidt’s dream was to become a dancer on a cruise ship.
“I loved it, but I knew there was more I wanted to do,” Waldschmidt said. “It wasn’t my final stop.”
Waldschmidt had applied numerous times previously to become a cast member on a cruise.
Then a fellow dancer in her first show, who had danced on a cruise ship, encouraged Waldschmidt to try again and mention her name when applying.
Disappointment is part of being a dancer, Waldschmidt said. You accept it as a possibility and continue working for your dream.
“It’s a constant battle you have with yourself,” Waldschmidt said. “When you’re first starting out at auditions, you’re going to be told ‘no’ 90 percent of the time.”
“It can be really disheartening because it’s something you really want,” she added. “You really have to remind yourself that perseverance is the biggest thing. Nobody likes rejection, but that’s a big part of what we do.”
That made it all the sweeter for Waldschmidt when she opened her email one day in July 2022 and saw a contract offer from Princess Cruises.
“I think I was the most excited I’ve been in my entire life,” she said.
Waldschmidt moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles for rehearsals with her cast members, then they all flew to Sydney, Australia.
After a day of sight-seeing, Waldschmidt boarded the Majestic Princess on Oct. 31, 2022. It was a two-week cruise, which typically means two shows a night three different nights. There also would be smaller performances during the cruise.
For her high school graduation, Waldschmidt’s three older siblings gifted her with a cruise so she could see what it was like.
“I immediately fell in love with it,” Waldschmidt said. “The shows were fascinating. This was something I really wanted to do.”
Waldschmidt’s dance teacher when she was growing up was Alyssa Dechant, owner of Styles Dance Centre. Dechant was not surprised by Waldschmidt’s success.
“Cassie was one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever had,” Dechant said. “I knew she could do anything she wanted to.”
“I work with a lot of very uniquely talented dancers,” she added. “Cassie was just so determined.”
That determination saw Waldschmidt through tough times just starting out. She graduated from Las Vegas’ Theater Arts Preparatory School in March 2020 – right when the COVID-19 pandemic sent the world to a screeching halt.
“It definitely put a stop to everything entertainment-wise,” Waldschmidt said.
Waldschmidt moved back home and worked at Hays restaurants before moving back to Las Vegas a year later. She then landed a summer job as a performer at an amusement park in Pennsylvania before returning to Las Vegas that fall. She worked gigs there until getting a role in her first show.
“It definitely changed everything I thought was going to happen,” Waldschmidt said of the pandemic. “It ended up working out pretty well.”
Waldschmidt determined that dance was for her even though she had track scholarship offers coming out of high school.
She qualified for state track all four years, competing in four events as both a junior and senior.
Waldschmidt, who holds the school record in the 400-meter dash, was runner-up in that event at state her last two years.
“I can always go back to college if this doesn’t work,” said Waldschmidt, now 23. “I only have one shot of being young and giving it a shot.”
Waldschmidt is set for her third cruise later this month. Performing for others is special for her.
“I like entertaining people and being onstage,” Waldschmidt said. “Some people express themselves through painting, some people express themselves through writing.”
“When you see me the most vulnerable is when I’m dancing,” she added. “I think it’s just rewarding to share part of myself with people. When I’m dancing, it’s the most open and vulnerable I can possibly be.”
While enjoying cruising and still wanting to continue doing it for a while longer, eventually Waldschmidt would like to live and perform in shows in California.
But that’s in the future. Now, she is dancing the night away and seeing what life has to offer.
“Sometimes, it doesn’t feel real,” Waldschmidt said. “Sometimes, I have to pinch myself a little bit.”