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Lessons From a Life in Dance

Retired Houston Ballet dancer Lauren Anderson came to campus Thursday, Feb. 24 to kick off this year's Leadership Live series. The speaker series invites members of the community to speak to our students about their career and life journeys, offering insight on the leadership lessons they've learned.

One of the world's most distinguished African-American ballerinas, Anderson was the first woman of color to achieve principal ballerina status with the Houston Ballet. She's danced the lead role in every major ballet, and had one created specifically for her.

A dancer from the age of seven, Anderson finished high school and immediately went into the Houston Ballet's professional ranks. "Yes, I regretted not going to college out of high school," she told the girls, emphasizing that the career of a dancer is short. Most female dancers retire by 29; Anderson continued her career until she was 41. Having spent a life in dance, she transitioned to the Houston Ballet's education and outreach division. "I had no skills," she told the girls. "So I decided I needed to go to college to get some."

She went on to earn a college degree in medical records keeping, and the data systems education she received helped her track and organize the impact the Ballet's education and outreach programming has on the community. Her story was one of endurance, tenacity and artistry.

The biggest lesson she wanted to impart on the students, however, was, "You are enough. As a dancer, I was never enough: I wasn't white enough, black enough, tall enough, in the correct position on pointe enough. It took me a lifetime to realize that I am enough, and as long as I am doing the right thing and concentrating on doing the next right thing, that's ok. I want you to know: you are enough just as you are."

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