Miss Carissa began her dance journey 19 years ago at the age of 8 years old. Even prior to her “official introduction” to the dance world, her love for the arts was very apparent at a young age. She always instantly began dancing when music came on, and danced her way down every grocery aisle and hallway she crossed paths with. Once registered with a local dance studio Miss Carissa’s passion for dance instantly blossomed and over the years took many classes in various genres including but not limited to, ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, hip-hop, and lyrical. In only a matter of time Miss Carissa found herself at her dance studio 6 days a week both working on her training and helping in classes of the younger students. This is where her love for teaching and working with children began. At the age of 12 Miss Carissa dreamed of one day opening her own dance studio and spent the following years preparing herself to make this dream come true.
Miss Carissa’s dancing kept her very busy all the way through high school. She was a member of her dance studio’s competition team and competed both regionally and nationally for 17 years. Her love for performing was very clear every time she stepped on a stage. To this day, Miss Carissa will tell you that her very favorite place to be is on a stage entertaining a large audience. Her famous facial expressions and bright smile captured many judges and audiences attentions over the years that she competed. Miss Carissa has received many special awards over the years for her performances including “Most Potential”, “Amazing Control”, “Fabulous Face”, and “Best in Show”, just to name a few. She has also taken home numerous overall high score awards for her age divisions, and in 2006 she was crowned Miss Dance Diva at a regional competition. Although Miss Carissa loved competing what brought her the most joy was performing at local community and charity events. She grew up performing at many local elderly assisted living homes, soup kitchens, and St. Jude Telethons. She found great joy knowing that what she enjoyed doing could help and bring a smile to others faces.
In 2005 Miss Carissa’s teaching career began at a local dance studio and has taken off ever since. She has taught classes in ballet, lyrical, tap, jazz, hip-hop, acrobatics, specialized preschool programs, boys only hip-hop/acro classes, Zumba and Zumbatomic. Her students have competed throughout CT and have taken home numerous awards, overall high scores, and special awards. Miss Carissa’s choreography has also been recognized at many competitions including awards such as “Perfect Patterns”, “Sassy Divas”, “Cute as a Button”, “Creative Concept” and “Judges Choice Award” just to name a few. Most importantly, Miss Carissa has been recognized by many judges for her age appropriate costuming and choreography.
In the summer of 2007 Miss Carissa began Dance Masters Of America’s (DMA), intensive 4 year teacher training program in Buffalo, New York. This is a very prestigious program with teachers traveling in from all over the world to be certified by the best of the best. While attending DMA’s teacher training school Miss Carissa took classes in, ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, modern, improvisation, contemporary, musical theater, children’s work, acrobatics, liturgical, music and counting, dance notation, yoga, pilates, gyrokinesis, anatomy and kinesiology, comparative body movement, dance history, nutrition and stretch and strengthening classes. Miss Carissa excelled in all of her exams and graduated from the program in 2010 receiving her diploma from DMA and is certified by test to teach.
In addition to her DMA training Miss Carissa also attends dance teacher seminars, workshops, conferences and conventions throughout the year all over the country, to further her dance education as well as keep up with the latest dance trends. She has studied with some of the world’s most renowned choreographers and instructors in the dance industry, including Luigi, Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio, Travis Wall, Wade Robson, Desmond Richardson, Dave Scott, Brian Friedman, Sheila Barker, Cathy Roe, Bob Rizzo, Lane Napper and Debbie Allen just to name a few. She has traveled throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Georgia to gain the knowledge from working with these amazing individuals, and bring it back to her students here in CT. This summer Miss Carissa is very excited to travel to Scottsdale, Arizona to attend the DanceLife Teacher Conference put on by Rhee Gold with hundreds of other dance teachers from all over the world.
In 2011 Miss Carissa traveled to Massachusetts to attend a Zumba Training Session and become a licensed Zumba Instructor. She is an active member of the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN). She began teaching Zumba classes at a local dance studio and gyms throughout the Litchfield County, and even hosted a charity Zumba event for MS in 2013. In 2012 she headed back to Massachusettes to become a licensed Zumbatomic instructor, (Zumba for kids). She now travels to many daycares, elementary schools, and summer day camps hosting Zumbatomic events for kids and enjoys every minute she gets to work with these children outside of the dance studio environment. The knowledge she has gained from Zumba has opened her mind up to many new ideas for her dance classes as well.
With all that Miss Carissa has going on with her teaching path she still always makes time to continue her own dance education and improve her own technique. In her free time she is always continuing to take as many dance classes as she can possibly get her hands on to better herself as both a dancer and instructor. She has trained both locally such as at the University of Hartford, and also frequently travels into NYC to take classes at Broadway Dance Center, Steps On Broadway, and The Alvin Ailey School. In 2012 she became a member of the Rebecca Moore Dance Company. This is a contemporary/modern based company out of New Milford, CT. She has traveled throughout CT performing at different festivals and showcases with them. In 2013, Miss Carissa began doing some apprentice work with America’s Got Talent semi-finalists “Catapult Entertainment”. Catapult is a shadow dance troupe under the direction of Adam Battelstein. This was a new and exciting experience for Miss Carissa, as this was a form of dancing she had never tried before. She learned so much from the dancers in the company and always looks forward to the opportunities she gets to be apart of with them. In April 2013 Miss Carissa traveled to Philadelphia, PA with Catapult to perform with them at the University of Pennsylvania. She also got to be a part of the process with them as they prepared to go to NYC to perform and compete at Radio City Music Hall for the television show “America’s Got Talent”. More recently, she has been involved in helping them shoot commercials for the YMCA and William Raveis Real Estate. Miss Carissa takes every opportunity, class, audition and performance she attends as a learning process to continue to better herself which in result betters her students. One of the most memorable auditions she can remember was when she traveled to Boston in 2010 for the So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) auditions. Her experience there was so rewarding and she will tell you how amazing it was to be in a theater filled with so much talent! The people she met that day and the amazing feedback she received that day is an opportunity she will surely never forget!
You can truly tell that Miss Carissa loves her job in every class that she teaches, with her bright smile and high energy. It brings her great joy to not only pass down her knowledge of dance to the next generation but more importantly to spread her passion and love for the arts to every student that steps foot in her classes. Her enthusiasm for the art is unmatched and she always says that she has the most amazing and rewarding job ever! She is so incredibly excited to make her dream come true in her new home of Dream*Believe*Achieve*Dance.