Maria has been teaching dance throughout the St. Louis area for over 25 years. She grew up training under her mentors, Deborah, Tracy, and Karen Davenport at Performing Arts Centre in St. Charles, MO, where she is currently on faculty.
After graduating high school, Maria set off to begin her professional career in New York with the touring performance ensemble, Manhattan Tap, under the direction of world renowned tap dancer and musician, Heather Cornell. Maria joined the ensemble for their European and North American tours. During that time, she had the extreme honor of touring with late tap dance great, Dr. Buster Brown, and was an original cast member in Manhattan Tap’s “Excursion Fare,” a full production featuring the musicians of Keith Terry and Crosspulse and premiered at the Joyce Theater in New York.
Since returning to St. Louis in 1999, Maria has been on faculty with many area dance programs and has served as a consultant for dance education programs throughout the region. Maria was on faculty at COCA (Center of Creative Arts) in St. Louis, MO for 10 years, where she worked with students and families as Tap Program Coordinator, COCAdance Company Associate Director, and Pre-Professional Program Director. She was invited to work alongside the late Professor Robert L Reed for the production of the St. Louis Tap Festival, which she attended annually for 20 years. She is also a former member of the R. L. Reed Tap Heritage Institute Board of Directors. Maria and the members of moSTLy TAP were honored to partner with Anthony J. Russo for the inaugural Show Me Tap Fest in 2018 and work on faculty.
In 2017, Maria founded moSTLy TAP, a professional performance ensemble, following her passion to create performances that would boost enthusiasm for tap dance and encourage audiences to enjoy rhythm in new ways. In 2018, under the leadership of Phillip Russo, moSTLy JAZZ was formed. Together, the ensembles began producing live music and dance performances at community engagements and venues throughout the area. In response to a growing need for accessible performing arts education opportunities in both music and dance, Maria developed STL Rhythm Collaborative in 2019. The nonprofit organization boasts growing music and dance education programs, free community engagement events for all ages, and continues to present live music & dance performances through the professional ensembles, moSTLy TAP & moSTLy JAZZ. The unending passion, support, and expertise of the moSTLy TAP & moSTLy JAZZ artists are the driving forces behind the Collaborative.
In addition to her work with STL Rhythm Collaborative, Maria is honored to be an adjunct professor of dance, teaching jazz and tap dance at Missouri Baptist University and Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.