On Friday, Minika Warden, 15, a rising sophomore at the Saint Paul Conservatory for the Performing Artists, will board an airplane for the first time in her life and jet to New York. The trip is for a weekend-long Broadway intensive during which she will study tap, ballet, jazz and modern dance in addition to voice and acting, all with some of the leading performers of the stage.
Warden is one of three standout students who will be on the trip, organized under the aegis of the Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts, the locus of a budding Northside arts hub off West Broadway where they all study. Warden (left in photo) and will be joined by Abby Honson, 14 (right) and Amaria Rocco, 15 (not pictured).
All will be chaperoned by some of the famed Casserly sisters, the entertainment family that runs the Lundstrum Center. Kerry Casserly appeared on Broadway in “My One and Only” with show director and choreographer Tommy Tune, and in “A Chorus Line.” Amy Casserly Ellis performed with Michael Jackson and Gregory Hines. And Susan Casserly-Kosel sang with the Minnesota Opera.
“It’s a life-changing opportunity that I wish I’d had when I was coming up,” said Casserley Ellis. “These talented students will get to study with top Broadway talent and to see the place where their dreams can live.”
In New York, the students will have a packed agenda, starting with a little sight-seeing.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the Empire State Building,” said Honson.
Then they will plunge into classes with dance captains from several Broadway shows as well as teachers from such companies as Alvin Ailey and the American Ballet Theatre. They also will see "Disney's Aladdin."
It is the second year that Lundstrum is taking a group of students to New York to study. And the trip is funded by an anonymous donor.
“I want to be just like my teachers when I grow up, to perform in all these great theaters and have my own company,” said Warden, whose parents run a gas station. “I want to go to places I’ve never been to before.”
Honson, whose father is an attorney, has similar aspirations.
“When I grow up, I want to be either a Broadway star or a dancer,” she said, adding that this also will be her first trip to New York. “I can’t wait to see the lights.”