Originally from San Antonio, Karissa Royster is a graduate of NYU where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History and was a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar. Through her passion for carrying on the beautiful tradition of tap dance, she combines her unique background with more than twenty years of training to equip her students with exceptional technique, musicality, and the ability to develop their own unique voice. Karissa enjoys connecting with students of all ages and dance backgrounds through her workshops at various institutions across the United States including UCLA, NYU, and the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.
Her formation as an artist and practitioner began under the tutelage of Barbara Phillips and Third Coast Rhythm Project. While continuing her studies in NYC, Karissa had the opportunity to perform as part of Dormeshia’s “Sophisticated Ladies” at the historic Cotton Club and also appeared with Emmy Award winner Jason Samuels Smith’s A.C.G.I. In April 2016, she made her Broadway debut as the Dance Captain and as a member of the dance ensemble in Tony Award-nominated Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 & All That Followed, choreographed by Savion Glover and directed by George C. Wolfe. Karissa also performed in ABC’s national broadcast of “Taking the Stage: Changing America”, produced by Quincy Jones and in celebration of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History. More recently, she served as Co-Choreographer with Justin Peck for a new developmental work following his completion of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.
In May 2023, Karissa graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s in Social Work. Currently, Karissa resides in Los Angeles where she serves on the dance faculty at the Colburn School. In addition to producing her own choreographic work, Karissa is in the process of developing a movement-based, trauma-informed therapy practice.