1CariSTAFF.jpgCarissa Christensen – Owner

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 Beal1JillSTAFF.jpg

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.


1ShelleySTAFF.jpgShelley Kreisler

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”

1LauraLaura Swearngin

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.

Amelia Maddox

Amelia spent 16 years at Starz, beginning her dancing career at the age of 2 and joining the competitive team at 7. During her time at Starz, she tumbled and also spent time as an assistant teacher. In 2013, she graduated from Saint Paul Lutheran High School in Concordia, MO.

She continued her education and dancing career at the University of Missouri- Columbia, where she spent three years as a member of the Golden Girls dance team. During her time as a Golden Girl, she performed on the sidelines at football and basketball games as well as competed on their nationals team. She also worked as a dance teacher at the Columbia Performing Arts Centre. Amelia graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies from Mizzou in 2017.

This year, Amelia moved to Kansas City to begin her education career as a 1st grade teacher and to return back to our Starz family. She is thrilled to be back where her love for dance started and can’t wait to help our kids become passionate about dance.