NaTalia Johnson
1983 - 2021
BORN
1983
DIED
2021
FUNERAL HOME
Griffin Mortuary
1715 E Broadway
Lubbock, TX
NaTalia Johnson
Sacramento, CA formerly of Lubbock - 37, passed away on Friday, May 7, 2021. Celebration of Life Service will be held Saturday, May 22, 2021, at 1 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church. Interment will follow at the City of Lubbock Cemetery under the direction of Griffin Mortuary. Visitations will be held today from 4 to 6 p.m. at Griffin Mortuary. NaTalia Johnson is an internationally acclaimed prima ballerina from Lubbock, TX. Johnson was the artistic director of the Sacramento-based Natalia Johnson Conservatory of Ballet and taught kindergarten and 1st-grade students in Sacramento. She was born in Lubbock, Texas on November 20, 1983, to Mrs. Doris Jean Kelly-Johnson and the late Mr. Lenious Johnson, Sr. a former Negro League Team baseball player and business owner who was one of the City's first African American employees. Mrs. Johnson dedicated herself to caring for the couple's children and managing the family's household. When their youngest of four children NaTalia began talking and humming songs at 7 months old, Doris knew the next 18 years would be busy. At age 3, NaTalia's sister started taking her to watch her in dance classes at the then, Parkway Neighborhood Center off MLK in East Lubbock with John Packard. Packard noticed NaTalia could pick up the choreography and really wanted to dance. He made an exception and allowed her to enroll in his dance program at age 4 instead of age 6. Around that same time, NaTalia entered and won an area wide baby pageant with over 5,000 contestants. She went on to win Little Miss Lubbock, Little Miss Texas and too many national pageants, dancing, but mainly singing. NaTalia was a high honor roll student at Iles Gifted and Talented Elementary where she was class president, a winner in the American College of Musicians National Piano Playing Auditions and set a record in standing Long Jump. She then went on to J.T. Hutchison Jr. High honors school where she was on high honor roll, named most talented girl, a cheerleader, A Universal Cheerleaders Association All-Star Cheerleader, and was recognized by Duke University for being mathematically and verbally gifted. At Lubbock High School, NaTalia was a member of Western Union Dance Company, a Senorita, Outstanding Theater Arts Student, selected to the homecoming court and was class favorite. After graduating with honors in 2002, NaTalia received a scholarship to Juilliard School of the Arts in New York. While winning gold medals in gymnastics gold medals with Marilyn's Upside Downers tumbling team and winning national baton twirling awards, NaTalia was diagnosed with Scoliosis, a serious curvature of the spine. She was sentenced to 23 hours in a back brace. The one hour per day free NaTalia decided to focus on ballet- first with Suzanne Aker, and then professionally with Yvonne Racz-Key. As she prepared to attend Juilliard, a chance encounter with Dance Theatre of Harlem Founder and icon the late Author Mitchell propelled NaTalia into the national spotlight. Dance Theatre of Harlem needed rehearsal space. They chose Ballet Lubbock, where Mitchell saw NaTalia in class. He invited her to join his ballet company in New York. Going to college in New York at age 18 was much different than moving from Lubbock to New York on her own. Lenious and Doris said their baby could move to New York to dance, if she stayed with a group of nuns. A week later her sister Candida called with great news! The Sisters of Mary Immaculate at the Centro Maria boarding house on West 54th Street in Manhattan had agreed to take NaTalia in.
Six weeks after dancing with DTH, Debbie Allen visited the ballet company and cast NaTalia as Pearl in her stage play Pearl. She moved to Los Angeles and stayed with Ms. Allen and her husband former Laker Norm Nixon where she sang, danced, tumbled, and got rave reviews. During her illustrious dance career, NaTalia danced with Urban Ballet Theater, Ballet Noir, Ballet Lubbock, Renaissance Ballet, Collage Dance Collective, and was twice selected as an International Ballet All-Star. She studied at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and taught master classes throughout the county, including Harlem School of the Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Daniel Catanach's Urban Ballet Theater, Henry Street Settlement, Abrons Arts Center, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, and taught and choreographed in the public school system in New York.NaTalia performed with notable entertainers including Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Lopez, Raven Symone, Todrick Hall, LeAnn Rimes, Tichina Arnold, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Eddie Money, Audra McDonald, Kyla Pratt, Rev. Al Green, performed for two U.S. presidents, at the White House, and entertained royalty -the King of Pop Michael Jackson and Prince. From PBS Specials at the Kennedy Center to a major network appearance in the lead role of Fairy Princess in the Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, over the years NaTalia has graced numerous billboards, magazine covers, and did commercials for Dance Magazine, The Ballerina Project, Capezio, Dance Wear. Payless Shoes, MCI, Benetton, Sesame Street, Dillard's Department Store, and Kids Gap. After her last world tour with Dance Theatre of Harlem she began visiting Sacramento to mentor girls participating in the National Girl's Self-Esteem Program run by her sister. When NaTalia retired from professional dance, she relocated to Sacramento to help her sister- graduate over 800 girls from Their Girls Self-Esteem Program Academy, which teaches girls poise grace and dignity. In 2013 she opened The Natalia Johnson Conservatory of Ballet. NJC offers scholarships to children who have the heart for ballet, but not necessarily funds for classes. Along with her ballet school located in Sacramento's Historic Oak Park Community, she started the Sacramento Royalettes a Majorette, cheer, and baton team, Feats of Praise her Praise Dance Company, and created, staged and choreographed Juneteenth the Ballet. But NaTalia's baby was "The Nutcracker In Oak Park," which she choreographed based on one of her favorite ballets. The show draws sold-out audiences in Sacramento. But in all her accomplishments she never forgot her hometown, she travelled back to Lubbock to teach ballet and self-esteem classes, and was instrumental in opening the door to a collaboration between Ballet Lubbock and several underserved communities to provide free ballet lessons to students from in Lubbock, including the former Parkway Neighborhood center up the street from where she, her sisters Debbie, Candida, and beloved big brother Lenious Johnson Jr. and sister/niece Anastasia Knuckles grew up. NaTalia is loved by admirers from all over the world especially her nephews Dichali Williams, Anthony Wilson, Malik Wilson, and her beloved niece Maliah Williams. NaTalia danced through many obstacles, but our beloved Prima Ballerina NaTalia Johnson, always, stayed on pointe. NaTalia will lay in eternal rest near Lubbock's own beloved Mack Davis and Buddy Holly.


Published by Lubbock Avalanche-Journal from May 20 to May 21, 2021.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
May
21
Visitation
4:00p.m. - 6:00p.m.
Griffin Mortuary
1715 E Broadway, Lubbock, TX
May
22
Celebration of Life
1:00p.m.
New Hope Baptist Church
TX
Funeral services provided by:
Griffin Mortuary
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12 Entries
First and foremost, I would like to send my deepest sympathies to NaTalia’s family, her students, her colleagues, her closest friends and all of her loved ones.

I am an old classmate of NaTalia’s. We attended Hutchinson Junior High and Lubbock High School together. I’ll always remember a specific conversation NaTalia and I had in the ninth grade when we were putting on a production of Dogsbreath Devereaux, the Dastardly Doctor, for our final grade.

I believe that that conversation helped us to grow as we were just two youths understanding where we stood within our young academic worlds.

I hadn’t seen NaTalia since May of 2001, coincidentally, the year I decided to graduate Lubbock high, as she wen ton to pursue our original class of 2002, thus I didn’t get to spend as much time with NaTalia.

Unfortunately we never reconnected or connected on social media as I have no social media accounts, but as I learn more about what became of NaTalia and her life and how much she helped those whom she loved, I can’t help but be so proud and honored to have spent our youth hood together. RIP NaTalia.
S A Luna
Classmate
May 29, 2021
I never met this beautiful young lady or her noble parents, but to know that she was raised in the Parkway community is more than enough reason to honor her and her family. Her accolades tell the story of her dedication and her families' drive for personal excellence. As a former resident of Lubbock, I send my most sincere condolences to the Johnson Family on the passing of their talented and loving child and sibling. What a path she walked! My hope is her influence will continue to be reflected in the lives of those young students she taught and mentored.
Harold Wallace
May 28, 2021
Taken far too soon, NaTalia’s gifts will leave a lasting impression on the world for years to come. Her excellent work is an enormous credit to Lubbock. She was a humanitarian, a true Renaissance woman, and a star!!! Ballet dancers who have trained under Lubbock High Westerner Union Dancers and Ballet Lubbock (a special sisterhood) particularly feel a large void on the stage without NaTalia’s pretty feet dazzling us all. Thank you, NaTalia, for making us incredibly proud. Deepest Sympathies go out to her family and loved ones!

Alyssa Krahmer
Former member of Westerner Union Dancers and Ballet Lubbock
Alyssa Y Krahmer
May 24, 2021
Natalia, we ALWAYS had so much fun laughing. Yes! In the studio, when we randomly crossed paths at 4 am in the bodega off 152nd and St. Nick, all of our check-in's on FB, and literally, whenever we were around each other. I want to say this confidently "Your spirit is very much alive. We all experience this magical journey at some point, and I cant wait to see you when we meet up again on the other side. I love you."
Taurean PEREZ
Friend
May 24, 2021
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
DeLinda Wiley Young
Acquaintance
May 23, 2021
NaTalia was one of my treasured students at Lubbock High School, a member of my Westerner Union Dance Troupe who was always an inspiration to others, dedicated, humble, and devoted. Her radiant presence was apparent to anyone who saw her perform. She represented the best of LHS and the best of Lubbock. May her light ever shine.
Valerie Komkov Hill
Teacher
May 22, 2021
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow. NaTalia was very beautiful and talented. Those who knew her were blessed by her energy and enthusiasm for life. What a great difference she has made in life of the children she touched along the way. We are looking forward to seeing the impact of those positive ripples in their lives. She will be missed but not forgotten. --Rosalind Ward and Jacqueline Sanford
Jacqueline Sanford
Acquaintance
May 22, 2021
NaTalia was very beautiful and talented. Those who knew her were blessed by her energy and enthusiasm for life. What a great difference she has made in the life of the children she touched along the way. We are looking forward to seeing the impact of those positive ripples in their lives. She will be missed but not forgotten. --Rosalind Ward and Jacqueline Sanford
Jacqueline Sanford
Acquaintance
May 22, 2021
Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. Remembering you and your loved one today and always.
DeLinda Wiley Young
Acquaintance
May 21, 2021
My prayers and condolences to the Johnson family and friends.
Karen Childers Henderson
Acquaintance
May 21, 2021
May your hearts always be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived. Gone to soon but forever in our heart. Blessings.
Anita Clay
Friend
May 21, 2021
I know Lenious and Doris since I was a little girl, love them and their children. Prayers going up from the Singletary and Casel Family. Natalia will always be remembered. Been a long time but you all were never forgotten, love you all.
Chyrel Singletary Casel
Friend
May 20, 2021
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