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After a yearlong search, Minnesota Dance Theatre & School has hired a new school director, the top position for the organization since it put a pause on its performing company in January.

Lauren Post, who comes from New York City, has experience as a dancer, and founder and leader of a nonprofit. She performed with the renowned American Ballet Theatre in New York for 17 years, and is certified as a ballet teacher in ABT's teacher training program.

In 2018, Post started CoLab Dance as a pathway for seasoned professional dancers in New York and beyond to find performance opportunities outside of traditional ballet seasons.

"That organization was really successful and always had sold out shows," said Suzi Kim Scott, MDT's board co-chair. "That told us a lot about both her business acumen in addition to obviously being a great technician and ballet instructor and someone who knows a lot about ballet pedagogy."

The hire marks a new direction for MDT. Run by the Houlton family for more than 60 years, the company was founded by choreographer Loyce Houlton in 1962. When she died in 1995, her daughter Lise Houlton became the artistic director, and served in the position until her retirement last year. The baton was then passed to Lise's daughter Kaitlyn Gilliland, who took over as interim artistic director through the 2023-24 season. Subsequently, Elayna Waxse has held that position since January. With the pausing of MDT's performance arm, Post now has the highest ranking position with the organization.

Scott said the board's goal is for the new director is to continue the level of excellence in training that the Houlton family nurtured since the beginning.

"We're just excited that we have a leader who wants to build on that tradition, and grow the school to new heights — in size, capacity, scale, and also offerings," Scott said. She added that Lauren has an impressive knowledge of dance repertory, "and has access and relationships to other choreographers and works."

The Houlton family, meanwhile, has its own plan in the works. Gilliland and her mother plan to stage the long-running holiday production, "Loyce Houlton's Nutcracker Fantasy," from Dec. 14-22 at the State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis.

"As the Houltons are no longer affiliated with MDT, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to open up participation by audition to all local dance students, including students from MDT," Gilliland said.

Gilliland said she was pleased about Post's hire at MDT.

"Our paths have crossed many times as our careers overlapped in NYC, and I have so much admiration for what she has already accomplished as an artist and a leader," she said. "I look forward to seeing where she takes the MDT school."

Post starts the job on Aug. 15. Meanwhile, registration for MDT's 2024-25 school year to the public on July 10, with classes starting in September. The application can be found at mndance.org/school.