Two people coordinating much of an annual Christmas classic about a snoozing child never quite dreamed of such a role.

Yet, Kaylin Hogan and Kim Lingeman find themselves wide-eyed as they approach Dancers Studio Inc.’s production of “The Nutcracker” at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St. in Columbus. The show is part of the pair’s initial, direct steps as the new managers-to-be of the nonprofit dance troupe that Elizabethtown’s Alma Wiley launched in 1989 as Columbus Dance Company.

The 25-year-old Hogan, a Columbus native and current resident, is the rookie director of the show. And Lingeman, also 25, from Seymour but currently living in Columbus, is handling behind-the-scenes Nutcracker elements such as stage managing, promotion and marketing.

Both danced at the studio from age 7 to 18.

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“I’m feeling the pressure a little bit,” said a chuckling Hogan, sitting in the studio office on Cottage Avenue in Columbus. “I’ve never before been the person in charge — or the final authority on how some issue turns out. Or how a particular dance piece looks.

“In the past, I’ve had input on those things as a teacher and as a dancer and as a choreographer. But never as the final person,” Hogan added.

Hogan will become the studio’s full-time artistic director when founder Wiley retires in May, an announcement the longtime leader recently made.

Lingeman will become full-time executive director.

Both played the Nutcracker’s central character of Clara, who dreams the production’s fanciful storyline, 16 years ago for the troupe. Later, as high school seniors in 2009, Hogan was cast as the Snow Queen, and Lingeman performed in the production’s Spanish dance.

“I think all this (about our new posts) goes back to what we’re passionate about,” said Lingeman, who danced at the studio three to four days per week during her school years.

And how can the dance duo be anything but passionate about a yuletide story that offers good versus evil, and enough color, pageantry and sparkle to seem like a gift in itself? Plus, each year, the show — the troupe’s largest single effort — features the special effect of the magically growing, monstrous Christmas tree.

The pair agrees that their backgrounds complement perfectly their roles-to-be. Lingeman graduated from Indiana University with a degree in public affairs and a focus on nonprofit management. Hogan earned a dance performance degree from Ball State University.

“One of our goals is to keep the essence of what Alma has created here,” Hogan said.

Through shows such as “The Nutcracker” during the holidays and presentations such as “Alice In Wonderland” in the spring at the Columbus Area Arts Council’s presentation of Old National Bank First Friday For Families, Dancers Studio reached at least 2,300 people — about the size of the population of Hope — last season, according to its figures.

It boasts about 150 current students, reflecting significant growth over the past few years, according to the new leaders-to-be.

And Hogan and Lingeman already have instituted changes including new online class registration and online Nutcracker tickets for the first time. Plus, since they each returned to the studio to be part of the staff in 2014, they have nurtured a strong relationship with students — so much so that teen dancer Morgan Smith, this year’s Nutcracker Snow Queen, accidentally addressed Lingeman as “mom” on a recent rehearsal night.

“That’s really how a lot of us see her,” Smith said. “She really stays on top of things. Not only is she great at directing us regarding dance and management in general, but she also is good at helping us manage our lives.

“She’s great to talk to if you’re having problems because she’s really so relatable.”

Smith and Nutcracker Spanish dance scene soloist Julia Vanderkolk offered similar praise for Hogan’s stability and leadership.

Even Hogan’s 18-month-old daughter Lily, whom students call “our studio baby,” seems to fit right in to the studio environment afternoons and evenings. Just the other night, when the toddler became upset and began to cry as her mom attended to business across the way, three teen students hurried to Lily, one scooped her up and several began softly singing one of her favorite tunes to her.

Within 20 seconds, Lily’s tears stopped and she began grinning and giggling.

Wiley loves the idea that she has longtime students and current office personnel — Hogan currently is artistic director and Lingeman is assistant executive director — who understand the studio’s mission and impact weaving the arts into everything from discipline to creative expression.

“I’m extremely grateful to have them,” Wiley said. “It’s very important to me that Dancers Studio continues. I think we offer something that’s really unique. And this studio is a very healthy place for kids and young people to be.”

Plus, at holiday time, it’s becomes a place where dreams come to life.

A seasonal fairy tale

What: Dancers Studio Inc.’s annual presentation of the classic holiday show “The Nutcracker.”

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St. in Columbus.

Storyline: From a story written in 1816 by E. T. A. Hoffmann in which young Marie Stahlbaum’s favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive on Christmas Eve and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls.

Tickets: $10 and $20, available at the door and online at

Information: 812-376-8080 or

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.