HOUSTON, Texas — A new production is now showing at Stages theater, one that has roots deep in Houston. It’s called "Plumshuga: The Rise of Lauren Anderson."
Anderson, an icon in American ballet, became one the first African American ballerinas to become a principal for a major dance company – in this case, the Houston Ballet.
With only 252 seats and just two and a half hours of performance, it’s an up-close, intimate glimpse into the life of Lauren Anderson.
One of America's most distinguished African American ballerinas, Anderson spent many years as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Houston Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker,' just one of her many roles.
For Anderson, performance has been her life. But now, her life is the performance.
“Everywhere I went, I seemed to run into a story about Lauren Anderson, and so I started to dig into her and realized there might be a really really great soil for a story there," Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, the playwright for "Plumshuga: The Rise of Lauren Anderson," said.
As the first Black poet laureate of Houston, Mouton reached out to Anderson to see if she could write about her life.
“As we started to get to know each other, those onion layers started to fall off, and I started to get a sense of who she really was as a person," Mouton said.
Together, the two created "Plumshuga: The Rise of Lauren Anderson."
“Plumshuga was a great collaboration for me, of a reference to the sugar plum fairy which Lauren danced for so many years. As well as finding a way to incorporate her Blackness, her culture, her southern style into one name," Mouton said.
Where all of her chapters pour out across the stage – the good and the bad.
"I've crossed over, been up, been down, forward, back. With dance, dance is the one thing, that no matter what happens in life, because life happens, everything is not always a bowl of cherries, but dance has always been there for me," Lauren Anderson said to KHOU 11 News back in March.
We caught up with Anderson back in March, when she was teaching a new generation of ballerinas.
She’s an inspiration to all, even Kellen Hornbuckle, who’s playing her role model in this production.
“And she asked me to play her, and I, of course, said yes, without hesitation," demi-soloist with Houston Ballet Kellen Hornbuckle said. “It’s always like that saying, you can either be a big fish in a small pond or vice versa, but she was the big fish in a big pond, and she was Black.”
It’s an innovative new work that blends spoken word, dance, music, and theater, offering an intimate insight into an iconic trailblazer.
“There is no low that you can’t bounce back from. And that when you’re restored, you can be fully restored, no matter what has happened to you. And I think that is the story of Lauren Anderson," Mouton said.
Plumshuga: The Rise of Lauren Anderson will run until November 13. You can get tickets on Stages Theater's website.