Houston’s picture perfect ballet virtuoso still inspires a crowd.

Decades ago, Lauren Anderson joined the Houston Ballet unsure of herself - then rose to stardom.

In 1990, she became the first ever black principal dancer for a major American ballet company. Now, her dance shoes sit in the new Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture.

“As long as the museum is up there, I’m there,” Anderson said. “How did I get there?”

Those close to Anderson said she got there through determination. She was once told to pursue a career on Broadway, but Anderson stuck with her dream to be a ballerina and went for it.

Lauren Anderson performs.
Lauren Anderson performs.

“I kept taking ballet (lessons),” Anderson said. “I did what (instructors) told me to do. I kept putting the next foot forward and (the ballet’s director) hired me and then created me.”

Her competitive nature is legendary. Her boyfriend Peter Schmar said she tried to out lift him during their first workout together.

Her new passion is mentoring kids through the Houston Ballet and it feels more important, Anderson said. However, her approach and advice to children is the same: Go for it.

“I just want them to find something that they’re passionate about,” Anderson said.

Mayor Sylvester Turner has declared October 5th Lauren Anderson Day.