Marissa was born in Austin, Texas, and began dancing at two and a half because, she says, her parents wanted to keep her out of trouble. She claims, they knew that with her ridiculously bad hand eye coordination, sports would just not be an option. She credits her first teacher Kim Willett, who she trained with until the age of ten, for instilling in her the passion, drive and hard work that it takes to be a true artist. Marissa believes, had she not started with Kim and had these principals engraved in her mind at the very young age of four, she would not be where she is today.
In fifth grade, she moved to Dallas and began training with Kristy Ulmer, who she says taught her to embrace all sides of herself and her dancing, claiming it was there that she learned how to be graceful, vulnerable, strong, powerful, emotional and open while training and performing. Kristy also started her on the path of striving for better technique and it was with her that she began to realize that the better you become, the harder you have to work. Marissa remembers winning National Tap Dance Kid at I Love Dance, which she says doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but to a five-year-old who just beat out a lot of big kids to win it, it was HUGE! She also remembers winning scholarships at all of the conventions she grew up attending, including Tremaine. However, she feels her biggest achievement in life has been simply following her dreams. She thinks a lot of people go through life following the status quo because it’s easy and expected but not a lot of people have the courage to go against the grain and take a leap into the unknown. She’s proud that through courage, hard work and determination, she has been able to do what she loves and make a living at it. It makes her very proud to have gone through life thus far with no “what if’s.”
Marissa has worked on the skeleton dance crews for the film “Beautiful” starring Minnie Driver and the TV movie “These Old Broads” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins. In addition she has appeared on the television series Boston Legal, Ally McBeal, Boston Public and The Hughleys, commercials for K-Swiss and Polaroid, on stage in Chess, The Heart of Biddy Mason and the North American tour of RhythMatix – A Wild Symphonic Ride, plus videos for Usher, The Early November and Peacock Trollop. When asked why she pursued dance as a career, Marissa replies that she feels the most complete when she’s dancing and that there’s honestly nothing else in the world she could see herself doing. The only piece of advice that she gives her dance students who are trying to figure out if they want to go into this business or not is this – “If you can think of anything else in the world that you want to do, if you would be happy as a doctor, teacher, lawyer, secretary, etc., DO IT! Because this business is just too hard if you don’t live and breathe for it.” We are very happy to have Marissa in the Tremaine organization.