Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reigniting the Stars

Caryn Ott Hillman, COT Teaching Artist - COT for Teens

Hello, my name is Caryn Ott Hillman.  I am the new stage director and choreographer for After School Matters’ COT for Teens at Gallery 37. 

Let’s see…where to begin?  I grew up in Milwaukee, WI where I took dance lessons from ages three to eighteen. 
Me at the tender age of 10, in one of my many dance costumes.

I started voice lessons in high school and was inspired to study music in college.  I moved to Chicago to attend Roosevelt University where I studied voice under Maria Lagios.  

Posing with Maria and my accompanist at my senior recital

Hugging my Candide when I played Cunegunde in CANDIDE at Roosevelt

After graduation, I performed both opera and musical theater throughout Chicagoland.  

My fellow fairies- I am in orange as Cobweb in A Midsummernight’s Dream at Metropolis Center for the Performing Arts

Model face with another gypsy in GYPSY LOVE at Light Opera Works
Ready to dance in THE STUDENT PRINCE
Now, where did the teaching come into play, you ask?  Well, in college, I returned home to Milwaukee to teach musical theater at a summer camp at First Stage Theatre Academy.  Since then, I have joined the team at Light Opera Works to direct and choreograph their winter/summer workshops and I teach at Emerald City Theatre, as well.  My first thought of working at Chicago Opera Theater came from my dear friend - Chris Richard.  We have performed together on stage in KISS ME KATE and have taught together side by side at Light Opera Works.  My first thought was that working teens was going to be much different than working with grade schoolers, but I was thrilled by the idea!  Having students that appreciate classical music or have a love of singing was going to be HUGE!

I am now only two weeks into the process and I have already witnessed the class come alive when they sing the chorus to the Merry Wives of Windsor. I am filled with so many ideas that I want to add to the pieces that Chris and I have selected for this term:
·        Flamenco dance to Dance the Cachucha
·        Embodying demons from Hades instead of woodland creatures for the chorus in Merry Wives of  Windsor
·        Perform on a dark stage with flashlights for the Ballad of Sweeney Todd

That is just a start!

I truly am inspired by these teens that may have more “real life” issues to deal with than the average teen.  I hope I can be a mentor that can create a Safe Zone for them to feel supported so that their self-esteem can flourish.  I am a foster parent to two beautiful girls.  Therefore, I feel I have a small insight as to how to take a “broken” child and help rebuild him/her.  No child is lost forever, he/she just needs to be harbored and nurtured. 
This is me with my husband Kyle and the girls, Kyla and Shauntae.  Their adoption will be finalized later this month!!!

Dim stars can be reignited – I intend to do that for these teens through preforming.                      
They deserve it!

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