Legendary ballerina, HISD alumna exposes dance students to fine arts careers

Houston Ballet’s first black principal dancer Lauren Anderson talked to dance students about her 20-plus-year career as a ballerina on Nov. 11 at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center.

[photoshelter-gallery g_id=”G0000gZhezwAKAJk” g_name=”20141111-BallerinaVisitGregoryLincoln” width=”600″ f_fullscreen=”t” bgtrans=”t” pho_credit=”iptc” twoup=”f” f_bbar=”t” f_bbarbig=”f” fsvis=”f” f_show_caption=”t” crop=”f” f_enable_embed_btn=”t” f_htmllinks=”t” f_l=”t” f_send_to_friend_btn=”f” f_show_slidenum=”t” f_topbar=”f” f_show_watermark=”t” img_title=”casc” linkdest=”c” trans=”xfade” target=”_self” tbs=”5000″ f_link=”t” f_smooth=”f” f_mtrx=”t” f_ap=”t” f_up=”f” height=”400″ btype=”old” bcolor=”#CCCCCC” ]

“When I first started dancing, I didn’t like it,” said Anderson. “But I never gave up…I’ve been in the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty…I’ve been all of the fairies and the birds, and I’ve danced in almost every continent.”

Anderson, a graduate of HISD’s own Lamar High School, retired from dancing eight years ago and now works as an outreach associate with the Houston Ballet, bringing ballet to classrooms and students across the Houston area. She also teaches ballet classes in Paris.

As a fine arts magnet school, Gregory-Lincoln often provides students exposure to careers in fine arts. The school is one of 25 fine arts magnet programs in the district. Many of the school’s dance students will attend the Houston Ballet’s performance of the Nutcracker next month.

“We want to give our students as much exposure to the arts as possible to the careers they could possibly have,” said the school’s dance teacher, Marlene Watts. “They need to see and hear from people who they can relate to who are successful.”

Anderson showed off ballet costumes and pointe shoes to the students and encouraged them to believe in themselves and to never stop learning. Students asked her questions about her dedication to dance, body image, diet and exercise for a dancer, and even to flex her muscles.

“Dancers are athletes because they dance eight hours a day,” Anderson said. “A day in the life of a dancer starts early in the morning, with ballet class and hours of rehearsal until the evening. You have to work hard, and you need to be passionate about dance if you want to excel.”

Students can apply to attend a fine arts magnet school through the district’s 2015-2016 magnet application until Dec. 19, the deadline for guaranteed first-round consideration.