HOUSTON – Native Houstonian Lauren Anderson, an American ballet and former principal dancer with the Houston Ballet Academy, is being honored for her accomplishments.
The Africa-American pioneer has received accolades from all over the world, but she said there's nothing like the honor of being recognized by her home state. She will be one of 16 recipients to receive the esteemed 2017 Texas Medal of Arts Award on Wednesday.
In 1990, Anderson was one of the first African-American ballerinas to become a principal for a major dance company, which is an important milestone in American ballet.
“I looked at the past recipients of the award and I was, like, ‘Wait, are you sure?’ I was, like, wow,” Anderson said.
She was surprised, but shouldn't have been, since the Texas Medal of Arts Awards honor Texans who have achieved greatness through their creative talents, which makes Anderson a natural.
After joining the Houston Ballet Academy at age 7, she worked her way through the corps and became the Houston Ballet's first African-American prima ballerina.
“I get to do what I love to do. Then I got paid for it. Then it was my profession. It's all I've done,” Anderson said.
She has broken many barriers, but remains grounded by choosing to continue her career in her hometown.
“I didn't go to New York. I didn't go to California. I stayed right here in Houston, Texas,” Anderson said. “So I'm honored and proud that they are acknowledging me.”
After hanging up her pointe shoes in 2006, Anderson now teaches classes and lectures around the country with the hope of inspiring the next generation.
“Everybody's got a talent. Whether it's in the arts or not, you've got a talent,” Anderson said.
Other Houston natives who will receive this year's Texas Medal of Arts Award included gospel singer Yolanda Adams, Kenny Rogers and actress Jaclyn smith.