González found her first ballet class by accident, when she was sent to the wrong address. Photo by Leonel Nerio, courtesy HB.

Why I Dance: Karina González

Principal dancer with Houston Ballet

I have always believed that things happen because it is written somewhere. Call it God, or destiny, but I think dance found me. I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and was 7 years old when my mother was asking people in the street for directions to folk-dancing classes for my sister. Somehow, they sent us to the wrong address, and we wound up auditioning for a ballet school instead.

Since that day, I have loved every minute of ballet. As a child I would will the hours to race by so I could run to school and start my warm-up, stretching and ballet classes. I remember my mom threatening to not let me go to ballet if I didn't finish my homework or clean my room. It was the worst thing she could do!

I still keep every single correction I've been given with me today. I have been blessed to have amazing people around, such as my mentor at the National Ballet of Caracas, associate artistic director Zane Wilson, who imbued me with the confidence, discipline and understanding it took to become a professional dancer. One piece of advice Zane gave me was that every step has a meaning. He told me he didn't care about the technique or how high you can lift your legs—it was about making the audience feel everything I felt onstage.

When Marcello Angelini, artistic director of Tulsa Ballet, offered me a contract to join his company as a member of the corps de ballet, I accepted. To leave home was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made, but I found a place that taught me what it takes to be a real ballerina.

I strongly believe that dancers never stop learning. There is a constant struggle between finding perfection, getting better, getting stronger every day or staying comfortable and confident in your current position. So, after five years, I decided to try something new. I joined Houston Ballet in 2010 and found it an amazing place to keep growing as a dancer. So many talented choreographers come to Houston Ballet and the excitement of working with masters like John Neumeier and William Forsythe never fades!

I try to wake up every morning with the intention of wanting to get better. There is not a specific answer to explain why I dance. I only know that dance is a part of me. Without dance I feel like something is missing. I love my class, the routine to condition my body for a day of rehearsals, that feeling of anticipation before a show, the butterflies in my stomach when the curtain goes up, that rewarding feeling at the end of a performance. What I love the most is the feeling of waiting to do it all over again the next day and thinking that it will be better than the day before.

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