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Houston ballerina to be enshrined in national museum

HOUSTON – Renowned Houston ballerina Lauren Anderson will be recognized in a special exhibit at one of the nation’s newest museums.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is set to open Sept. 24 in Washington, D.C., and a pair of Anderson’s ballerina shoes will be on display.

Anderson was the first African American principal ballerina with the Houston Ballet, where she danced from 1983 until her retirement in 2006.

"I can't believe it,” Anderson said of the honor. “I mean, my great-grandkids are going to be able to go to this museum and say, 'That's my great-grandmother's crinkled up brown shoe…I'm very humbled by the whole thing."

Anderson found out she would be featured after she got an email from someone with the museum, and said she was shocked to be included.

But her professional career spanned decades, and broke racial barriers.

Anderson, though, says she did not set out to break records when she began her career in ballet.

“On my tombstone, I don't want it to say 'She was the first'...I want it to say, 'She made a difference,' or 'She was an incredible dancer.'”

Channel 2 anchor Owen Conflenti and Anderson share a mutual friend, and he photographed Anderson at his photography studio on Houston’s North Side.

"She's very particular about her lines. What I mean by that is the way that her body is moving -- shaped on camera,” Conflenti said.

“The lines of the arms and the legs and how it looks, almost like a drawing."

Anderson will travel to Washington for the museum’s grand opening on Sept. 24.