Lauren Anderson, a former star of Houston Ballet, broke down barriers when she became the company's first African American principal ballerina in 1990. It was with enormous strength, personality and passion that she earned this elusive rank, as well as critical praise and loyal fans. In these snippets from Harald Lander's Etudes, her spirited performance proves why she rose to the top.

It's a thrill to watch Anderson in Lander's masterpiece, which celebrates the traditions of classical technique. She brings extraordinary virtuosity to the lead female role. Anderson captivates the audience with her bravura, insuppressible smile and dramatic flair, like the high-flying entrance at 1:45. In the first solo, she shows her musicality and personality through details in the upper body, sailing through brisk turns with confidence. She has impressive attack, but still incorporates fluid, suspended movement. Anderson certainly pushes boundaries and she reminds us of the possibilities that the future of ballet holds. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

Ballet Stars
From left: Douane Gosa, Gianni Goffredo, James Whiteside, Maxfield Haynes and Matthew Poppe in WTF. Yo Poosh, Courtesy Kimberly Giannelli PR.

We've always known that Madonna loves dance. After all, the "Queen of Pop" studied at the Martha Graham School in the 1970s. Nevertheless, we were still surprised (and thrilled) to see that she invited James Whiteside to perform at her 61st birthday party in The Hamptons last weekend.

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Giveaways
Modeled by Daria Ionova. Darian Volkova, Courtesy Elevé Dancewear.
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News
Boston Ballet's Kathleen Breen Combes, María Álvarez and Dawn Atkins. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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Ballet Stars
Alexandra MacDonald (front row, third from left) didn't win a medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition, but says she came home inspired and newly motivated by the people she met there. Photo Courtesy Genée IBC.

Ballet competitions are an exciting part of any dancer's career. Yet while scholarships, prize money, job offers and the prestige that comes with winning a medal are compelling incentives to participate in one, they're not the only benefits. In fact, many dancers who go home empty-handed still look fondly on the experience and go on to become successful professionals.

This week, the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition kicks off in Toronto. From August 20-29, over 50 dancers, ages 15–19 and trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, will perform three solos in the hopes of winning a medal and a $10,000 cash prize. Many past medalists have gone on to illustrious careers—but so have those who didn't win anything. We spoke with three Genée alumni now dancing professionally who know what it's like not to place. Read on to find out why they deem their comp experiences a success, and how you can make the most of yours—whether you win or not.

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