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2018 Most Influential Women: Lorianne Dunn

The Springfield Little Theatre

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When passion meets purpose, sparks fly. As The Springfield Little Theatre’s education director, Lorianne Dunn feels like a star when she puts others on center stage.

“I feel so incredibly blessed to be doing the work that I am confident I was created to do,” she says. “It is my desire to help others discover, develop and align their own superpowers to excel in whatever they choose to pursue.”

Dunn’s purpose and passion intersected when she landed her current job in 2003. Since then, she has worked to create what she calls a magical experience for those involved with the theater. Currently, 420 full- and part-time students are involved with SLT programs in addition to 1,200 summer students. In an effort to reach the next generation, free and discounted tickets to performances are provided for more than 30,000 local children.

Dunn is simply sharing her own love of the arts with others. Beginning ballet at 8 years old, Dunn quickly found her life passion and began studying dance professionally through the State Ballet of Missouri at age 11. She later became a member of the Children’s Choirs of Southwest Missouri and performed in multiple SLT shows. She received full scholarship offers to six dance schools nationwide. At 13, Dunn studied in New York City at The School of American Ballet. She graduated college with a bachelor’s in dance performance from Missouri State University.

Dunn took interest in choreography and has directed or choreographed approximately 40 productions, earning her national recognition when she was nominated for choreographer of the year by Dance Magazine.

Now, Dunn has come full circle back at Springfield Little Theatre, where she passes on her love for the arts along with her staff. Dunn oversees four full-time and three part-time employees and 22 per-course instructors. This staff directs 10 auditioned youth performance troupes in addition to running the pre-professional program for young people who plan to make a career in theater. Dunn believes in facilitating partnerships to further opportunities for local students, as well. Most recently, this meant working with Camp Barnabas on theater workshops and classes.

“I am fortunate to work with a team comprised of hard-working individuals who share a commonality of purpose and passion,” she says.

For her efforts to further the arts for generations to come, Dunn was recognized by the Springfield Regional Arts Council Inc. with the 2016 Ozzie Award in arts education.

She also serves on the dance panel for the Missouri Arts Council.

Dunn works in many ways to make sure the future of performing arts is bright, but she says the most important aspect of her work at SLT is making the stage feel like home for everyone.

“I am most proud of being an integral part of an incredible team at Springfield Little Theatre,” she says. “A team that’s highest accomplishment is creating a safe place for young people and adults alike in our community to aspire to their best selves.”

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