Teen uses talents to choreograph show

When she was seven, she tiptoed onto the stage in a pink tutu and danced before an audience for the first time.

Now, 10 years later, Krislyn Gottman is no stranger to the stage. She’s performed in eight recitals, numerous dance competitions, musicals and revues with a theatre guild, and a school play.

This year she expanded her repertoire to choreography, writing the dances for several musical numbers in next week’s production of Oklahoma! From "Many a New Day" to "Out of My Dreams" and the accompanying dream ballet, Gottman has created dances that draw on her years of experience.

"She’s been with me since I first opened the studio," said Tami Franklin of Steppin’ Out Dance Studio. "I know she’s very smart and talented. I’m proud of her and her growing accomplishments."

While at Steppin’ Out, Gottman has studied tap, ballet, jazz, pom, toe, lyrical, and competitive pom. She also worked at the studio for one year as a student teacher.

"When they become student teachers, they start to do their own choreography," Franklin said. "It’s neat to watch all the girls grow and take up creating dances on their own."

In 2002, Gottman moved to the dramatic side of the performing arts with her role as Appassionata Von Passion in Li’l Abner, which was performed at the Tuttle Opera House. Roles in Babes in Arms, I Don’t Have a Clue, and The Lullaby of Broadway followed. She created a short dance for a song in Li’l Abner, then continued to work with Oklahoma Children Acting Guild artistic director Marissa Winkelman on other musicals. Each time the guild put on a new show, Gottman added more ideas, leading up to her position as head choreographer in Oklahoma!

"She has been an important part of all of our musicals," Winkelman said. "[Gottman] just has such a gift for choreography. My stage manager and I add some suggestions and ideas, but most of the big dance numbers are completely her own. It’s surprising that she has this kind of talent as a 16-year-old. It makes me wonder what she will be able to accomplish in the future."

Of the 20 students Gottman teaches her moves to, one has dance experience and one is a cheerleader. Many of the others require demonstrations to know an arabesque from a waltz. But Gottman said the group is surprisingly adept.

"They all look good," she said. "All they needed was practice."

Gottman said that she is most proud of the dream ballet. In most productions of "Oklahoma!," a dream Laurey comes in and dances for the actual actress. But in next week’s show, the actress does the dancing herself.

"I especially like the part of the dance where the two girls enter and steal her jar of smelling salts," Gottman said. "I don’t know. It just looks good."

On top of her work at Steppin’ Out and the acting guild, Gottman holds three different part-time jobs and maintains a 4.0 grade point average. She is in the National and Oklahoma Honor Socieities, volunteers in the children’s department of her church, and is on the school’s track team.

She is going to be in the school’s upcoming play and will also be debuting as an actress in this year’s Steppin’ Out recital. Franklin has asked her to pantomime an angry mother during a younger group’s dance to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

Franklin said that she has enjoyed seeing Gottman evolve from a little girl dancing tap and ballet to the performer she is today.

"I can really remember her best in "Girls with Guitars," Franklin said, remembering Gottman’s first tap dance. "She was always so full of energy and so happy. She was always ready to go."

Gottman said that she credited both of her instructors for encouraging her through the years.

"[Franklin] instilled a love of dance early in my life, and I have loved dance ever since," she said. "I walk down the street dancing. I walk in one-two-threes, one-two-threes. And [Winkelman] started something that no one else was doing here with the acting guild. It’s made me a lot more confident. I can do things in front of people now. I can sing, and act, and dance, and believe in myself."

Audiences to next week’s production of Oklahoma! can catch of glimpse of Gottman dancing during the dream ballet, although not as her character, Ado Annie.

"Ado Annie doesn’t dance," she said. "So I don’t get to. Kind of funny, isn’t it?"

Oklahoma! will be held at the Tuttle Opera House April 15-18. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 4 and up. For tickets and showtimes, call the Oklahoma Children’s Acting Guild at 381-3388.

Back to the Main Page Back to the News Releases Page