Carissa received her formal ballet training from Claudette Soltis (former dancer of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo ) of the Joliet Ballet Society. While at the Ballet Society she was given the opportunity to work with many other ballet greats such as Irina Kolpakova, of the American Ballet Theatre, and Dace Dindonis, formerly of the Indianapolis Ballet. It was also there where she felt the lights of the stage performing in pieces such as the nutcracker, with the Indianapolis Ballet, and Japanese Suite, both choreographed by Dace Dinodis. Her first tour of the United States began at the age of 17 in the tour of the Nutcracker with the Chicago Jazz Company, the Joel Hall Dancers. Her most memorable performance with Joel Hall was at Jazz Dance World Congress, held at Navy Pier in Chicago, performing El Gato Negro.