The Casserly Sisters

 

Faculty

 
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Andy Ausland

Tap Company

Co-founder of Buckets and Tap Shoes, Andy Ausland is a talented Tap Dancer with over 20 years of experience. He and his brother Rick Ausland founded Buckets and Tap Shoes and perform all over the Twin Cities and Midwest. Andy runs the tap company at Lundstrum Performing Arts for our most experienced tappers. 

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Rick Ausland

Tap

Rick began dancing and drumming at the age of 3 and has been involved in the Twin Cites dance community since 1981. For fifteen years he studied ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop and partner dancing at Larkin Dance Studio.
Rick’s professional highlights include the role of tap-dancing cowboy “Billy” in Crazy for You at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. He is also co-creator of Buckets and Tap Shoes, which earned top ticket sales at the Minnesota Fringe Festival for 2004, 2005 and 2006 and was named “Best Dance Performance 2005” by City Pages. As part of the dance and music company 10 Foot 5 for over a decade, Rick performed and taught master classes in theater venues around the world.
Among his many other interests, Rick loves to cook organic, vegetarian food, write movie ideas and help people make their dreams a reality.

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Jeremy Bensussan

Ballet, Tap, Contemporary & Modern

Jeremy Bensussan is currently in his sixth season as a performer with the Minnesota Dance Theatre. He earned a B.F.A. in Dance from the University of Minnesota in 2010. Jeremy has danced in New York with the Dusan Tynek Dance Company and The Bang Group, and locally with Minnesota Opera, Flying Foot Forum, Out on a Limb and other companies. His regional musical theater credits include Fiddler on the Roof in New York, 9 to 5 in Ohio, Annie Get Your Gun in Wisconsin and Cats in Rhode Island, as well as French TwistHeaven and La Cage Aux Folles in Minnesota. Jeremy was the regional producer of the sell-out premiere of the musical Golden Boys. He was the recipient of The 2015 Sage Award for Outstanding Performance for his work in the company Lost Voices in Jazz.

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Kathleen Bloom

Vocal

Kathleen Bloom has been a professional singer and actor for almost 30 years, appearing in over 50 musicals and plays across the country. She received rave reviews recently as the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music at Minnetonka Civic Theatre. She also starred in Early Bird Special, staged by Lundstrum’s own Chrissy Fournier. Other credits include performing opposite Marni Nixon in the world premiere of Opal in New York City and the role of Eliza in My Fair Lady at the New England Lyric Operetta. She is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Minnesota. She has directed over 30 plays and musicals for schools and community theaters around the Twin Cities, including The Music Man at Lundstrum Performing Arts. She is mom to her beautiful daughter, LilyAnne, and has a wonderful husband, Allen Bernard.

 
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Ashley Brown

Sing and Dance

Ashley Brown has been taking classes at the Lundstrum Performing Arts since she was 3 years old. Since then, she was a student assistant and worked her way up to be an instructor of the Sing and Dance classes.

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Shane Ellis

Percussion

Shane has been performing in The Twin Cities for most of his life, including roles with the Guthrie Theatre in Jane Eyre, Chanhassen Dinner Theater in Singing in the Rain, as well as with Lundstrum Performing Arts in Once Upon a Mattress, Hello Dolly and with PlaceBase Productions. He is an accomplished drummer performing locally and formerly with the indie pop-rock band Dandylion Warpaint.  He has taught percussion in area schools including Lundstrum Performing Arts since 2013. Shane continues to write and record music, practicing the drums with zen-like discipline. Shane currently studies with Dave King (The Bad Plus, Happy Apple).

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Chrissy Fournier

Musical Theater Repertoire

Chrissy grew up in the 40’s and 50’s, watching the great MGM movie musicals and yearning to be part of that dazzling world. Having studied ballet with a Russian master as a child, and adding modern and jazz dance to her repertoire, she then studied dance at the University of Minnesota under Loyce Houlton, founder of Minnesota Dance Theatre. 

In 1962, Chrissy moved to New York, where she was cast in the Broadway production and two national tours of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, under the guidance of its originators Abe Burrows, Cy Feuer, Frank Loesser and Bob Fosse. She later joined an international company of West Side Story under the direction of Jerome Robbins and Tony Mordente. 

In 1967, Chrissy returned to the Twin Cities, becoming the first choreographer for Chanhassen Dinner Theatre and a member of the original company. She has directed many musicals including The Boy FriendA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and West Side Story.

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Heather Gerard-Peabody

Acting and Improvisation

Heather's experience ranges from musical theater, improv and interactive theater to television commercials and film. Her regional credits include Hairspray, Nuncrackers, Phantom, Christmas Again?!, The Pajama Game, Let's Kill the Boss and Ole and Lena Go to the Big Apple. Heather has directed multiple productions in the Midwest and is the 2007 recipient of the Bravo Award. She attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York and holds a B.S. degree in theater and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

 
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Mary Howarth

Music Director and Score Arranger

Mary is a performer, music director, educator, arranger and composer. She received a B.F.A. in piano performance from the University of Minnesota, and her musical theater experience includes work on productions for the Guthrie Theater, Temple Israel, the University of  Minnesota and St. Catherine University. She began her professional career at the age of 12 when she was paid three dollars to play “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” on the piano for a talent show. Later that year, she began playing organ for church services while passionately continuing her classical piano studies. She has served as organist for St. John’s Abbey, as pianist and arranger for St. Catherine University and as music director for Most Holy Trinity Church. Mary also has published liturgical compositions and arrangements through GIA Publications and Augsburg Fortress.

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Aili Kotnik

Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern and Dancemania

Aili dances professionally with Threads Dance Project, a contemporary dance company based in Minneapolis. She began her classical training at an early age in the Twin Cities, working with ballet masters Leslie Daly, Riet Velthuisen and Tatiana Berenova. She has also performed with local dance company Crash Dance Productions.

Aili is a practicing yogi who loves traveling and learning new languages!

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Patrick Moore

Adult Tap and Hip Hop

Patrick is a triple-threat performer and choreographer, who has sung, danced, acted and choreographed his way through 25 years in performing arts. He credits the Katherine Dunham Center for the Performing Arts for igniting his love of the craft. Patrick’s professional performing credits include The WizFive Guys Named MoeSmokey Joe’s Café, Sophisticated Ladies and Black Nativity. In addition, he has choreographed and worked beside many national recording artists and finalists for the television show So You Think You Can Dance. Patrick has a gift for teaching and inspiring youth with his passion and talent.

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Katie Wodele

Sing and Dance, Performing Arts Workshop and Boys Performing Arts Workshop

Katie has been a member of the Lundstrum faculty since 2003. In addition to her technique classes in ballet, jazz and tap for all ages, she has trained LPA students in the Sing and Dance, Performing Arts Workshop, Boys Performing Arts Workshop, and Broadway Arts Conservatory programs. Katie holds a B.A. in Theater from Butler University with additional training from Center Theater in Chicago. Her dance training began at the Preparatory School for Performing Arts in Winona, MN and continued at the prestigious Butler University dance program in Indianapolis. While in Chicago she studied and taught with the Bryant Ballet and The Joel Hall Dancers. Her Minnesota teaching credits include The Children’s Theatre, Zenon, Young Dance and Stage Coach Theater Arts School. Her acting credits include appearances at Yellow Tree, Artistry, Lyric Arts, Chameleon Theatre Circle, The Southern Theater and Open Window Theatre.


Staff

 
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Joan Grathwol Olson

Managing Director

Joan has served as a Board Member of Lundstrum Performing Arts since 2007, and stepped into the Managing Director role in 2015, where she oversees administrative planning and fundraising for the organization. Joan is an experienced nonprofit executive, working over the years with many large and small Twin Cities organizations in the areas of fundraising, planning, and staff mentoring. She loves supporting the Lundstrum mission of performing arts with a purpose, and is proud to be a part of a great staff team.

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Patty LeFaive

Operations Manager

Patty has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management. After spending 20+ years assisting organizations with compensation and benefits, she longed for a change that would feed her artistic side. She started at Lundstrum as a volunteer in 2007 and worked her way up to Operations Manager. She is responsible for accounts payable, payroll, organizational statistics, managing human resources, helping to create organizational and program budgets and contributing to the development and implementation of organizational strategies, policies and practices. Patty enjoys seeing the growth the children make and is so proud of each and every one of them. 

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Nora Kreml

Development Manager

Nora is a Chicagoland native. An alumna of both Drake University (BA in Art History) and Johns Hopkins University (MA in Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management), Nora manages Lundstrum’s donor program, fundraising events, and volunteer efforts. With 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia and 12 years of musical theater productions and classes in her younger years, Nora felt a natural pull to Lundstrum. She loves the role theater arts training plays in building self-confidence and promoting personal growth. 

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Tim Komatsu

Registrar

Tim is a Minnesota native who holds a B.A in Theater and Political Science from Luther College. He grew up performing in similar programs run in his home town and was immediately drawn to Lundstrum’s mission. As the Registrar, he is responsible for registrations, assisting parents with financial assistance, and billing. He enjoys being a part of an organization that has a positive impact on so many students.