LUBBOCK, Texas — World renowned dancer, Natalia Johnson died on May 7 at the age of 37.

In a video from 2006, NaTalia Johnson can be seen moving full of grace and agility. She is the Sugar Plum Fairy in Ballet Lubbock’s 2006 production of the Nutcracker.

Johnson had returned to Lubbock to perform in the recital after travelling the world as a professional dancer. However, before the world became her stage, she began dancing in Lubbock at the Guadalupe Neighborhood Parkway Center in East Lubbock.

“I’d look at her and see had a natural talent and so I knew we had to get her to Ballet Lubbock,” Candida Johnson, NaTalia’s sister, said.

From the moment NaTalia walked into the studio, Yvonne Racz Key, Artistic Director of Ballet Lubbock recognized her talent.

“Your eye just went to her,” Racz Key said. “She had such an energy and focus. At such a young age you could feel that drive.”

Racz Key said Johnson went on to be her first student to move onto a professional career. She became a member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Urban Ballet theater.

“She was a hard worker. She was very smart. She could learn the choreography and she just stuck with it and ran with it,” Johnson said.

In 2013, the prima ballerina started the Natalia Johnson Conservatory of Ballet.

“She was a task master in an inspiring and loving way. She did not accept excuses. She expected everyone to do the work,” Johnson said.

Johnson said her sister was the first Black ballerina to come out of Lubbock to dance professionally. Although she has taken her final bow, they know she has set the stage for other aspiring dancers.

“Her dance career was born in Lubbock TX at a community center in East Lubbock off of MLK Boulevard,” Johnson said. “I think that sets the mark for other children that are in Lubbock.”