Nutcracker brought the holiday spirit to Lander Monday

(Lander, WY) – Lander Performing Arts partnered with the Lander Dance Academy to dance alongside the San Diego Ballet to perform the timeless Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker on Monday at the Lander Valley High School.

This was the first year for this performance, and Lander Performing Arts Executive Director Laurèn Flower hopes to bring it back next year for more than one night since it was so popular.

San Diego Ballet Executive Director Matt Carney shared they have been touring the Nutcracker for around 22 years, and this was their first year in Lander.

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“I think what’s really great about Lander is it’s a new connection with the folks over there running the arts group, Ari and Laurèn,” Carney said. “It’s just really great to be working with new people that are really connected to the idea of bringing the community together for a holiday event while also making the investment and bringing a professional company into town.”

Partnering with dance studios in the places they tour isn’t something new for the San Diego Ballet, although they’ve expanded their program a little bit this year, he shared.

“I think for us, it’s really important that we’re not just picking up what we do and putting it somewhere else, but that we’re really working with the local community. So it really is a collaboration, and the way that we do that is work with these different studios and involve local kids.”

County 10 had the opportunity to interview two dancers from the Lander Dance Academy before Monday’s performance, 6-year-old Mabel Syler and 12-year-old Asa Kozlowski.

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In the performance, Mabel played a Sugar Babe. Her role included dancing up to the Sugar Princess and giving her a lollipop. She shared she was excited to dance alongside the San Diego Ballet and that her favorite part was giving the Sugar Princess the lollipop. She has danced since she was three and her favorite dance is the Nutcracker.

Asa has danced for six years and played a Gingersnap in the Nutcracker. Her favorite part about being a Gingersnap was doing lots of cartwheels.

“I think it’s a really cool opportunity to have such a big company from San Diego come here to Lander, Wyoming,” Asa shared about working with the San Diego Ballet. “Such a small town of all places they could have gone they came here. It’s just been really fun.”

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She was most excited to talk and work with professionals from a big company.

Lander Performing Arts is only new by name. Most might remember it as the Lander Community Concerts Association (LCCA), which has been around since 1947. In June 2022, they launched a new name, new logo and new website.

“This is our inaugural year, which has been exciting to represent our new look, and our new logo at Lander Performing Arts and to update our approach with the community,” Executive Director Laurèn Flower shared. “Launching this new emphasis on community involvement and kind of small, less shows but more upscale, eclectic artists and community involvement with it, such as these dance partnerships.

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“It’s just been awesome to see how the community still wants us to be really involved in bringing all these artists to a rural community such as Lander, Wyoming.”

Learn more about LPA and see what’s next by clicking here.

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