Mother makes history at Houston Ballet as first Hispanic principal dancer

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- She's the face of the Houston Ballet, and she's making history as the first Hispanic principal dancer.

Karina Gonzalez started studying dancing in Caracas, Venezuela when she was a young girl.

"They sent us to the ballet school instead of the folk school. I actually did get in and I was just 7 years old," Gonzalez said.

After studying dance in Venezuela, Gonzalez was sent to the U.S. at the age of 16 to dance in Tulsa.

"The process of starting from zero and working for so many hours, and at the end of a few weeks you have this beautiful product you bring on stage," Gonzalez said. "I love the process."

In 2010, she joined the Houston Ballet as a soloist, and three years later she was promoted to principal dancer.

The promotion made her the first Hispanic principal ballerina dancer in the Houston Ballet's history.

"I feel like for me, it's the opportunity to show whatever your background is, you can fight for your dreams," Gonzalez said. " I think you have to give it your all everyday."

She has taken on principal roles by the world's foremost choreographers in Cinderella, Dracula, Romeo and Juliet and her upcoming role as Sylvia.

"She's strong and powerful compared to others where she is fragile and the victim. This is different. She is one of the strong women in the army," Gonzalez said.

Putting on the performances is a job that requires hours, of training everyday.

"Not just ballet, but I think anything in life, you have to have that passion and drive to make you want to love it. From the beginning, I was very passionate about it," she said.

Nearly a year ago, Gonzalez took on a new role as a mother, and she and her husband welcomed Julia to the world.

Two months later, Gonzalez was dancing again. Now, she's worried about balancing the two.

"My mom says it's not the quantity of time you spend with her, but the quality of time you spend," Gonzalez said.

To the young girls who wish to follow in her footsteps, she says discipline is the most important thing no matter where you come from.

"As an artist, I feel like you never settle. You try to learn every day and bring that perfection," she said.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.