Broadway to West Broadway
Lundstrum Performing Arts is led by a group of seasoned musical theater professionals committed to inspiring young artists through their craft. The organization is led by five Casserly sisters (pictured, right, with legendary Broadway veteran Tommy Tune), each of whom brings significant national performing experience coupled with a passion for teaching the next generation of musical theater artists.
We are a community school that teaches musical theater technique in systematic and integrated curriculum of voice, dance and drama. We love what we do and feel compelled to give back to the craft that has given so much to us. As artists we know that beauty, discipline and expression are ageless qualities that leave a lasting impression on a child's spirit. Drawing on both established and blossoming relationships with major artists in New York's Broadway scene, we foster a unique and unparalleled connection to the country's center of musical theater as a world-class training center for those with Broadway ambitions.
Lundstrum Performing Arts has and will continue to enrich and improve the community it serves. We believe we have a unique niche as well as brand in the arts community.
The Lundstrum studio began in the 1920s when a 15-year-old Dorothy Lundstrum took over the Ascension School of Dance with her sisters Lorraine and Marion. Dorothy launched what proved to be an amazing legacy on the north side of Minneapolis where thousands of youth studied dance, charm and fashion - in addition to positive behavior, self-worth, and good citizenship. Despite the increasing economic challenges, rising poverty, and crime in the North Minneapolis neighborhood, Dorothy never wavered in her commitment to bring exceptional opportunities for success to her students.
The Legacy Continues
When Dorothy passed away in November 1998, she willed her studio and life's work to the five Casserly sisters: Sue, Amy, Kerry, Laurie and Janie, daughters of her lifetime pupil and friend, Lois Melsha Casserly. In June 2000, the organization reformed as a nonprofit and reopened its doors with an expanded curriculum specializing in training for Broadway Musical Theater, creating a New York-to-Minneapolis network for visiting and local performing artists. Today, a full performing arts curriculum capitalizes on the Casserlys' professional expertise in music, voice, dance and acting for the stage and camera.
In 2004, the organization left its original home at Ascension School. After renting space and running programs at three separate locations, in August 2006 Lundstrum Performing Arts purchased a new building at 1617 North Second Street.
Why North Minneapolis?
North Minneapolis was the center of art and culture for many people in the first half of the 20th century. However, highway construction, movement away from the central city and changing economic conditions caused the deterioration and neglect of the arts on the North Side. This is now changing, thanks to a concentration of effort by many artistic and community partners, and Lundstrum Performing Arts is proud to be a part of this change. Located in the heart of North Minneapolis near I-94 and downtown, it is an ideal spot to bring a "mini-Juilliard" for Broadway arts in their own neighborhood and for youth longing for creative outlets.
Since 2000, Lundstrum Performing Arts has proudly served thousands of students from diverse backgrounds. Approximately 60% of our students are residents of North Minneapolis, an area with a population of roughly 67,000 and a poverty index of 36%. 60% of students come from African, Asian, Latino and Native American backgrounds. Nearly 40% of students receive financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships and waivers funded by generous gifts from Lundstrum benefactors.
The University of Minnesota's Center for Research in Educational Improvement concluded in its research over the last decade that involvement in the arts improves student academic achievement along with student behavior. With this in mind, the Lundstrum Performing Arts is committed to planting the seeds of possibility in every child who enters its doors. Whether students are just passing through or preparing for a career in the arts, the Lundstrum Performing Arts vows to instill its founder's belief that every person has dignity and is a unique gift to our world.
Located in North Minneapolis, our mission is to cultivate a love and knowledge of the performing arts so that young people will discover their unique gifts, develop their depth of character and imagine new possibilities for their lives, ensuring access for all through scholarship support.
Continuing in the tradition of our founder Dorothy Lundstrum, our guiding principles are:
Provide a safe, welcoming environment where virtues and values are taught through words and example
Nurture children in mind, body and spirit to release their artistic capacity
Create a joyful culture that celebrates all that is good, true, and beautiful in the arts
Provide excellence in classroom teaching while meeting students at their need
Support young people from diverse backgrounds and help them find their unique place in the world