Carissa established Starz Studio of Performing Arts in the fall of 1995. The opening and success of STARZ is the fulfillment of her lifelong dream. “Cari” holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Missouri Kansas City’s Performing Arts Center. She has an extensive background in both performing and instructing including; Three years with the K.C. Chiefs Cheerleading Squad where she also served as co-captain and choreographer, performing at both Busch Gardens, and Fiesta Texas theme parks, National print modeling, Miss Jackson County and top ten Miss Missouri finalist, Kansas City Chiefettes, and Missouri Repertory Theater. Her enthusiasm for the performing arts is second to none. She is extremely motivated, and totally committed to the success of her students. “Shoot into STARZ and let us make your STARZ shine!”
Jill has been teaching at STARZ nearly since its inception. She joined Carissa after a fulfilling career as a professional dancer for Princess Cruise Lines, Tokyo Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Busch Gardens. She performed in numerous industrials, trade shows, has done print work and commercials and has even danced for former First Lady, Nancy Raegan. Jill’s background is strongly influenced by ballet where she received 2 full scholarships to the Atlanta Ballet from its director Robert Barnett, acceptance into the School of American Ballet, and several others throughout her years of training. She studied the Checchetti form of ballet and was a member of the Dearborn Ballet Theatre. Jill has been a judge for national dance competitions and has taught several award winning routines and dancers in her career as a teacher. Jill brings a strong knowledge of ballet, jazz, tap, and tumbling to Starz as well as the discipline needed to bring out the best in your dancers.
Shelley is a native of Kansas City, Mo and is a dancer, choreographer, actress and model. She has studied and taught various styles of dance including ballet, jazz, tap, modern, musical theater, tumbling and hip-hop for over 30 years. She was a member of the Missouri Dance Co. founded by the renowned David Parsons for 4 years. She has worked alongside Paula Abdul, Olsen Twins, Joe Tremaine and Frank Hatchett. Her performances include productions of West Side Story and The One and Only at Starlight Theater, Tivoli Theater at Worlds of Fun, Cabaret, Oklahoma, the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl and was a NFL Chiefs Cheerleader for 5 seasons. She has choreographed a music video for Peter Frampton, national commercials for Payless Shoes, Intrust Bank, and Price Chopper along with 2 halftime shows for NFL football teams. She was the Dance Director for Blue Springs High School drill team for 5 years. Her credits also include numerous award winning regional and national routines and has received numerous choreography awards.
Shelley has appeared in two feature films, My One and Only and Hope. She has also appeared in several local and national commercials and print ads including Hallmark, Sprint, Payless, Intrust Bank, Price Chopper and Mr. Goodcents. Presently she has been selected to be a regional and National judge for Bravo, Rainbow and KAR dance competitions. Shelley loves her Starz family and tries to instill creativity and technique in her teaching. Remember, “Dance from your heart and you will never be wrong”
Laura started as a student at Starz at the age of 11 and quickly joined the competitive troupe a year later. During her time at Starz, she worked as an assistant teacher for five years and would graduate from Oak Grove High School. While attending Oak Grove, she was a member and served as captain of the varsity cheerleading squad.
Laura attended Lindenwood University (LU) where she was a member of the Lionettes Dance Team for one year before deciding to focus her time on obtaining a minor in Dance. She went on to become a member of the Lindenwood Dance Ensemble for her final three years. The ensemble performed many styles of dance including ballet, jazz, modern, and musical theater around the St. Louis area and regional ACDFA festivals. She choreographed modern and jazz pieces for LU dance concerts. While obtaining her Master’s Degree in Education at Lindenwood, Laura worked at the Fort Zumwalt School District where she was the varsity dance team coach for the Fort Zumwalt East Golden Girls.
Last year, Laura moved back to Kansas City and is currently a business teacher at Van Horn High School. She is very excited to be back home and working at the same studio that gave her the passion and love for dance. She hopes to instill that same love of dance in her students at Starz.
Mikayla started dancing at the age of 4 and joined the Starz family at the age of 6. Mikayla knew dance was her passion and joined the Super Starz dance Troupe as a competitive dancer when she was 8. She committed her dance education 10 years and became an assistant teacher from 2010 through her final year in 2015. She graduated from Oak Grove High School in 2015 and started her secondary education at Northwest Missouri State University. She decided that she wanted to be closer to home and plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science at a college closer to home. Mikalya re-joined the Starz family in the fall of 2016 and she was so excited to get back in the dance studio again.
Mikayla is extremely happy to share her love for dance with the Twinklers and Sparkler dancers. She believes that dance has played a major role in the leader she is today and Mikayla is more than ready to spread her love for dance to all of her students.