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UNM grad finds his dream come true as a dancer on a cruise ship

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Growing up in Clovis, Estevan Velasco-Romero used music as an outlet.

It’s also where he cultivated his desire to read music and understand musicality.

In Clovis, he watched his mother participate in church choir and hip-hop aerobics.

Yet it wasn’t until he enrolled at the University of New Mexico that dance became the fire that fueled his soul.

He’s now a member of Carnival Cruise Line, where he performs daily for guests.

He’s been doing the job since 2016.

“I feel lucky because I’m able to do what I’m passionate about every single day,” he says. “Performing in front of people, that’s one of the biggest accomplishments in my life.”

The 26-year-old performer takes part in four main productions – two are staged twice a night.

The genres of dance range from hip-hop to Latin and contemporary to 1920s-style.

The pieces are called “Soul Bound,” “Amor Cubano,” “Vintage Pop” and “Celestial Strings.”

“Basically, I do six shows that are all different, and we have one scheduled day off per week to rest and recover,” he says. “This is the only ship that does these shows. They are unique and well thought-out. It’s fun to take part in them, and the audiences are enjoying them.”

Velasco-Romero was born in Albuquerque.

His parents are civilian military employees and were posted to Cannon Air Force Base, near Clovis.

“My mom was a caterer, and my dad was a chef,” he says. “We got the benefits of moving to air bases that they wanted to work at.”

He made his way through middle and high school as a shy kid.

“I got a glimpse of performing and dance from my mom,” he says. “She always sang in the choir and went to aerobics classes. I saw her do it, and she inspired me.

“When I moved to Albuquerque for school, I felt like it was a melting pot of culture compared to Clovis.”

While at the University of New Mexico, he began pursuing a degree in psychology while getting his feet wet in the beginner-level hip-hop dance classes. A classmate noticed his natural talent and offered him a position as a backup dancer for a local drag queen.

From then on, he was immersed in the Albuquerque dance community, especially at Musical Theatre Southwest.

Velasco-Romero graduated from UNM in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in contemporary dance.

“There’s a lot of open-minded people, especially those that I met at UNM,” he said. “I felt like I could be myself and just be free.”

He moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, to follow his dreams of being a full-time performer. There, he worked days at a salon and nights selling merchandise at concerts for various artists, including Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.

In 2016, he landed his first professional job, with Carnival Cruise Line.

“Being able to travel and dance is a dream come true,” he says. “The hard work is paying off, and I’m fortunate to be part of this journey. It’s made me a stronger person and a stronger performer.”

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