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Karin Gottier was born in Germany and immigrated in 1951 to the United States as a teenager to live with relatives in Connecticut. On graduating from high school, she worked as a buyer and later as a youth coordinator for a department store chain. During that time, she earned a B.A. and M.A. in German studies from the University of Connecticut and was subsequently certified to teach foreign languages at the secondary level.
Several years later she was in New York City on business and walked past a door which had "Folk Dance House" written on it. Going in, she met Michael and Mary Ann Herman and found a new direction in her life.
Since then, she has worked as a dance educator, instructing recreational folk dance groups at all age levels. She directed both international and ethnic performance groups, and presented educational units of traditional dance and folkways to students in elementary and secondary schools as well as on a college level.
At the university level, she designed and implemented training programs in folk dance targeted toward educators according to their specific disciplines. Karin worked with community and volunteer groups to execute programs related to ethnic traditions and conducted one-session programs for civic groups to execute programs releated to ethnic traditions.
Since 1977, she has taught three-day workshops, five-day seminars, two-session summer courses, and other workshops for James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Virginia), Van der Cook College (Chicago, Illinois), Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), St. Kathryn's College (Denver, Colorado), Central Connecticut State University (New Britain, Connecticut), University of Connecticut (Storrs, Connecticut), Hart School of Music (Hartford, Conecticut), Eastern Connecticut State University (College Park, Pennsylvania), Penn State University (College Park, Pennsylvania), Connecticut College (New London, Connecticut), St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota), and Elmira College (Elmira, New York).
Karin has taught at most of the folk dance camps and weekend workshops across the United States, including the Miami Valley International Folk Dancers (Dayton, Ohio), Maine Folk Dance Camp (Bridgeton, Maine), Folklore Village (Dodgeville, Wisconsin), Ralph Page's New Year's and Labor Day Camps (Troy, New Hampshire), Ogelbay Labor Day Camp (Ogelbay, West Virginia), Pinewoods Camp (Plymouth, Massachusetts), and Texas Camp (Waco, Texas). She has also taught at recreational and ethnic performance groups, including Community Folk Dancers of Greater Hartford, Hartford Sängerbund German Dancers, E.O Smith High School German Dancers, Gwiazda Polish Folklore Ensemble, Les Compagnons de la Danse, and Hartford Yiddish Dancers.
Her trips abroad have taken her to Japan, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Karin has been a consultant for the Museum of American Frontier Culture, the Ethel Walker School, Mountain Dancers, National Puppetry Institute, Slovak Dancers of Norwalk, Nutmeg Playhouse, and North East Community Theater, and she was an instructor at the Ethnic Dance and Dance History -- Albano Ballet Academy and Ethnic Dance Forms -- Connecticut Concert Ballet.
In 1994, she brought together many of the dancers from North American German folk dance groups and organized the North American Federation of German Folk Dance Groups. The organization was accepted as the official North American branch of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Volkstanz (DGV). She served a two-year term on the Board of Directors of the National Folk Organization, a two-year term as president of the University of Connecticut chapter of the World Education Fellowship, was the German representative to the Ethnic Advisory Council of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut, the Ethnic Coordinator of the Hartford Arts Festival (1977 to 1979), and was Program Chairman for the German Americn Day Committe of Connecticut.
Karin holds membership in the New England Folk Festival Association, the Italian Folk Art Federation of America, the Country Dance and Song Society, the Schweizerische Trachtenvereingung (Swiss Costume Association), the Deusche Gesellschaft für Volkstanz, the French Folklore Society, the North-American Federation of German Folk Dance Groups, and the North-American Gau Verband.
In 1997, Karin realized her dream of bringing a group of American German folk dancers to the DGV Festival held that year in Erfurt, Thueringia. At this festial, Karin was recognized for her achievements in North America, promoting German folk dancing and culture.
Karin has received many awards. She was the 2008 recipient of the Golden Pin of the German Society for Folk Dance and the 1999 recipient of the San Antonio College National Folk Dance Award. In 1994, she received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (it is the highest civilian decoration awarded by the Federal Republic to citizens not involved in government). In 1985, she was the recipient of the Silver Pin of the National Carpathian-German Association for developing cultural education programs, and in 1974, she was made an Honorary Member of the Polish Cultural Club of Connecticut.
Karin writes and produces "The German Folk Dancer," a bi-monthly folk dance and folklore magazine. In the Sept./Oct. 2011 issue, she wrote a story "We Mourn Morry Gelman."
Karin's articles and publications include
- German-American Life: Recipes and Traditions. by John D. Zug and Karin Gottier, paperback, 1991.
- "Glossary of German Dancing Terms." by Dr. Douglas Lee Hall and Karin Gottier, 2004.
- Teaching Culture Through Dance: A Workshop in International Folk Dance for Teachers. by Karin P. Gottier, 1983.
Dances Karin has taught include Bumerang, Der Nagelschmied, Dreihdans, Einfacher Dreher, Flinkfleuter, Gruezi Wohl Frau Stirnima, Hott-Schek, La Montferrine du Pays D'Enhaut, La Ronde du Jorat, Muhlenpolka, Rekrutenpolka, Trull-Masolike, Serenade, and Valse Frappe.