Get to know the Dancearts Staff
Marie, Owner/Director of Dancearts, graduated Stephens College with a B.F.A. in Dance. She was a member of the Stephens College dance faculty for 8 years and toured with the "Mid-America" and "Harriette Ann Gray" Dance Companies. She returned to Columbia in the early 80's to begin teaching at Dancearts. She became part owner in the early 90's and became the main owner in 2000 along with her co-owners Maggie Dethrow and Marisa Robertson. She teaches primarily tap and jazz at Dancearts and choreographs award winning numbers for the competition team. Her incredible tap teaching skills has earned her the title of the "Tap Queen!"
Maggie Dethrow - Modern, Jazz & East Indian Instructor & Co-Owner
Maggie graduated Stephens College with a B.F.A. in Dance. She has been a member of the dance faculty at Stephens College for 12 years. She has taught and performed at Perry-Mansfield in Colorado and has taught for Stephens Theatre Institute for many years. Maggie has been a teacher for over 20 years and is currently teaching modern for the Stephens College Dance Department and continues to teach all the modern classes at Dancearts.
Marisa Shoemaker - Hip Hop & Jazz Instructor, Co-Owner
Marisa has danced since the age of 5 and competed for 12 years with the Dancearts Competition Team. She has taught various styles of dance at Dancearts for over 10 years. She was awarded a summer internship at Broadway Dance Center in NYC and the Performing Arts Center in LA. Marisa has been acknowledged for her innovative and polished choreography as well as her teaching ability.
Ken started his professional dance career with Walt Disney World and Southern Ballet Theatre, now called the Orlando Ballet. Ken then danced with Pittsburg Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin and the Louisville Ballet. He was featured in over one hundred works, including ballets created by Louisville Ballet director Alun Jones, George Balanchine, Choo San Goh, Anthony Tudor, William Soleau, Stephen Mills and David Parsons. During his tenure in the Louisville Ballet Company, Ken also performed with the Cincinnati Opera, Derby Dinner Playhouse and the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati where Ken would later co-direct their production of Walt Disney's "Cinderella." After retiring from the Louisville Ballet in '02 as a Principal Dancer, Ken founded Step One Dance and joined the Louisville Ballet School as a faculty member. Ken has been teaching Ballet for DanceArts since 2008.
Kristina, a Kansas City native, began dancing at the age of 6 in Kansas City at Ibsen Dance Theatre, where she was trained in jazz, tap, ballet and lyrical and received the privilege to become an assistant teacher during high school. Kristina also participated in several community musicals and was a member of her nationally ranked high school dance team. Kristina continued her dance training at Dancearts in 2001 while attending the University of Missouri and became a member of the instructor staff in 2002. She currently teaches jazz and tap but has taught hip hop and lyrical and choreographed several competition jazz pieces for the Dancearts Competition Team and staff member for Dancearts Summer Intensive Program. When Kristina is not teaching at Dancearts she is also a Les Mills certified group fitness instructor at All Group Fitness, has served as the head coach of the Hickman High School Dance Team since 2007 and has been teaching at Dancers' Alley (Jefferson City, Missouri) since 2005 and is currently their Jazz Director and Competition Team Co-Director. Kristina is honored to be a member of the Dancearts community and has throughly enjoyed teaching so many wonderful and talented students throughout the years.
Jordyn Sammis, originally from Prior Lake, MN, began dancing at the age of 3. She is trained in jazz, lyrical, hip hop, tap and ballet. In high school she was a two-year captain for Prior Lake Varsity High School Dance Team. In addition to being a part of the Dancearts staff since 2013, Jordyn is currently a University of MO student, majoring in Journalism and minoring in French.
Jerome Larkins is a dancer, choreographer and instructor specializing in the areas of house and b-boying. His instruction focuses on building the basic foundation of breakdancing and improving technique while increasing self-confidence, body awareness and discipline. He has been dancing for 15 years and has toured with GX International and EPO, competed nationally and internationally in both group and solo bboy events, and instructed hundreds of children while choreographing national award winning routines. Jerome has been a part of the Dancearts teaching staff since 2013.
Leah Franklin was born and raised in Columbia, MO. While in high school, she traveled with the Dance Olympus convention company as an assistant. She graduated from Stephens College with a BFA in dance and a minor in music. While in college, Leah choreographed numerous pieces that were featured in Stephens concerts. One of her pieces was featured as the opening entertainment for the Citizen Jane Film Festival. After graduating, she moved to Los Angeles, CA and studied dance at Edge Performing Arts Center. Since moving back to Columbia, she has been teaching at Dancearts for two years and regularly choreographs for the competition team.
Cyndi Frisby has been teaching at Dancearts for over 10 years. Her specialty is in creative movement, kinderdance, beginning tap and jazz classes. Her goal as a teacher is to instill confidence in each and every student she works with. She also hopes that students in her classes start to love the art of dance. In her classes, Frisby instills in each student a sense of respect for themselves so that they may continue to grow gracefully, confidently, "rhythmically," throughout their lives. Watching the dancers' faces light up when they see her walk in the studio and when they learn something new, she says, is such an incredible experience because she realizes each week the role that she plays in creating that smile and excitement for dance. Cyndi is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and when her time is not occupied with journalism or dance, she is spending time with her kids and grandson Jax. Cyndi is very excited to share her knowledge and love for dance with the students at Dancearts.
Monique I. Jones is a native of Kansas City, MO, where she began her classical ballet training at DanceWorks Conservatory in Kansas and the Kansas City Middle School of the Arts. In middle school she became a company member with the K.C. District Dance Theater, and was accepted into the first K.C. Friends of Alvin Ailey Camp. She was a dance protégé under Tony Award Winning Choreographer Lenni Wylliams of UMKC, and attended Paseo Academy of the Arts High School where she received an ‘Arts Certificate’ in Dance. Receiving full dance scholarships to Gus Giordano Dance and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, she later attended the University of Iowa on a debutante scholarship from Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Inc., to which she received her B.A. degrees in both Dance and Journalism. She also was a company dancer with the University of Iowa’s Black Genesis Dance Theater and later served as the Artistic Director from 1998-2000.
Monique danced with the Movement Source Dance Company of Phoenix, AZ, and also served as Director of Dance for St. Mary’s Catholic High School. In addition to serving as Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Students at Scottsdale Community College, she taught dance classes at Tempe Dance Academy and for the prestigious Scottsdale Dance Academy. In 2006, as a fellowship recipient of the USA Access to Education, she became the first African-American woman to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree (in Dance) from Arizona State University. Relocating to Jacksonville, Florida, Monique operated her own dance school (MI Conservatory of Dance) while working for a non-profit organization, teaching literacy skills through dance movement. Additionally, (while conducting master classes and choreographing throughout the U.S.) she served as Dance Director for the St. Johns Cultural Arts Council in St. Augustine, and in 2009 won Best Choreography for her work “Heart Beat” from the American Dance Projekt.
Emma Montgomery was born and raised in Columbia, MO. She started dancing at Dancearts when she was 3 years old. While in high school, Emma danced for the Hickman High School Dance Team for 3 years. She then attended Stephens College and graduated with a BFA in dance. While at Stephens, she also choreographed dances for a few of the department’s concerts. Since college, Emma has continued to teach and dance at Dancearts.
Ari Wolk began dancing at the age of two at Summit Dance Shoppe located in Minnesota. She is was apart of her high school varsity dance team, competition in jazz and high kick. She served as the team’s captain her junior and senior year. Ari was also selected as an All State Dancer her sophomore, junior and senior year of high school. She is currently attending the University of MO- Columbia and joined the Dancearts staff in 2015.
Marjorie McDonald - Manager