Ace of trades: Kristi Wink

It is a name well known to the people of Marion. Kristi Cooke won the title of Miss Ohio in 1990, just one month after graduating from OSU. Now Kristi Wink, she continues to entertain as a regular at the Marion Palace Theater and the new owner / manager of the Martha Douce Dance Studio.

“The dance and all aspects of the show are who I am,” she said. “I appreciate it with all my heart.”

Kristi (Cooke) Wink grew up in Marion, graduated from Harding High School in 1986 and Ohio State in 1990 – majoring in theater.

“Growing up, I had a wonderful childhood,” she recalls. “It was around the time we were playing outside until the street lights came on. I loved playing block tag with all of my friends, rollerblading along uneven sidewalks, and biking and skateboarding. My favorite thing to date was my moped. I buzzed all over town with my girlfriend Mindy. We have had the time of our life.

She was only 3 years old when she started dancing at the Martha Douce Dance Studio.

“Then I got interested in theater when I was in fifth grade,” she continued. “Our teacher produced a very ambitious musical theater review with our whole class. It was my first solo. I was addicted.

Around the same time, Wink’s mother, Clare Cooke, was a choreographer at the Marion Palace Theater.

“I saw Kristi’s talent show through at a very young age, starting with dancing,” her mother said. “From there she blossomed as she pursued her interest in acting. “

“I decided to spread my wings a bit,” Wink replied. “My girlfriend Whitney and I auditioned for ‘Oklahoma’ and I haven’t left the Palace since that production. I’m pretty sure we were 11.

In fact, Wink says his career path seemed to reinvent itself every few years.

“I was fortunate enough to work on Broadway in New York,” she said. “It was after a year of reigning as Miss Ohio. After moving to Cleveland to start a family, I continued to perform locally but really found the love of teaching. I opened a theater studio in Marion where I taught for 15 years. In the end, I decided to take the classes to the Palace where I was still very active in performance, choreography and directing. The Academy of Arts was an opportunity to teach children and adults in Marion and surrounding counties.

Wink directed “Madagascar Jr.”, his ninth junior musical, at the Palace.

“For as long as I’ve known her, Kristi has been very involved in the performing arts scene in Marion, and it has been an honor to work with her,” said Bev Ford, Executive Director of the Marion Palace Theater. “She has a wealth of performance experience, including credits from her Broadway days in“ The Will Rogers Follies, ”and she enthusiastically shares all of this knowledge and skills with the Marion community. We are truly fortunate to have such a such a talented person who invests so generously in the lives of young and old. ”

“This community is bursting with talent,” Wink replied. “I like having the chance to enjoy it. In addition to the junior musical, I choreograph the summer musical and Christmas at the Palais. Another bonus is being part of the Harding and River Valley art team. I love working with so many different people of all ages.

“The fairy tale that ends this story is that my life has come full circle,” she noted. “I’m excited to start a new journey as the new owner / manager of Douce Dance Studio in Marion. It’s perfect to have ended up where I put on my first pair of dance shoes. I couldn’t be. more excited or feel more blessed.

The Marion Palace Theater is located at 276 W. Center St. in Marion. For more information call 740-383-2101 or log in

Martha Douce Dance Studio is located at 1491 Marion-Waldo Road, Suite 310 in Marion. For more information call 740-383-2623 or log in

Aces of Trades is a weekly series focused on people and their jobs, whether it’s unusual jobs, fun jobs, or people taking ordinary jobs and making them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at

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