MDO Board of Directors

The Missouri Dance Organization (MDO) is a membership driven organization. Members have a voice in its work and governance. MDO's Board of Directors is a working board and requires expertise in specific roles that are integral to MDO leadership, infrastructure, and long-term stability. We are always on the lookout for new Board members to energize the organization. If you are interested in serving on the MDO Board, email

Executive Board

Lisa Geger - President

Jo Byrnes - Vice President

Cecil Slaughter - Secretary

Carmen Dence & Cindy Kahn - Treasurer

Board Members

Alice Bloch

Summer Beasley

Beverly Sonen

Ashley Tate

Vanessa Woods

Lisa has been with the Columbia Performing Arts Centre, in Columbia, MO since its inception in 1998 and loves every moment she can spend with students. Lisa oversees the recreational ballet program syllabus, has taught modern and Swing, and has choreographed over 60 ballets and a few competition pieces throughout the years.

Lisa graduated from Stephens College in 1992 with a BFA in Dance. She then attended Harvard Summer Dance Workshop and studied dance in London with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre and in Holland with the Rotterdam Dance Theatre. Lisa performed with Webster Dance Theatre and MADCO in St. Louis and then moved to New York City where she became an apprentice for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and represented the Cunningham Studio in the Princess Grace Foundation Awards. Lisa studied the Argentine Tango with Paul Pellicoro and Eleny Fotinos, both of whom taught Al Pacino the tango for his role in “Scent of a Woman”. Lisa performed the Argentine Tango in many tango salons and restaurants and has competed in the International Latin Ballroom Dance division. She has also performed for many smaller, modern dance companies.

In 1996 Lisa moved back to Missouri and founded Repertory Arts Movement, a 501 C3 organization formed to promote the performing arts. From 2004-2006 Lisa was proud to be the Associate Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of Cedar Lake II.  In 2007, in order to spend more time with her family and homeschool her children, Lisa donated her 501 C3 organization to Karen Mareck Grundy who renamed it to Missouri Contemporary Ballet.  Since 2017, Lisa has been an adjunct dance instructor at Stephens College teaching ballet, modern, choreography, pedagogy as well as a guest choreographer for their faculty spring dance concerts. What a blessing to help young dancers to pursue their dreams of dance whether it be on stage, in the studio or classroom!

Lisa is a board member of the Missouri Dance Organization whose mission is to connect the Missouri dance community and to support all the incredible dance artists of Missouri. She is also on the Executive Board of Missouri Alliance for Arts Education. Along with becoming certified in the Progressive Ballet Technique Lisa is beginning a new adventure and is becoming certified to teach yoga as a Wilson’s Total Fitness instructor. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks 😊  Lisa loves to spend as much time as she can with her three teenage daughters and outnumbered husband!

Jo Byrnes is a professor of dance at Cottey College in Nevada, MO. She earned bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering technology and theatre with dance emphasis from Kansas State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance and Related Arts from Texas Woman´s University. She was a founding member and artistic director of, and created and directed the Instant Dance Project. She danced professionally in the Dallas, TX, and Boise, ID areas. She has recently served as a panelist for education grants for the Missouri Arts Council. At Cottey, Jo teaches courses in ballet, modern, jazz, musical theater dance, yoga, improvisation, dance appreciation, choreography, and directs the student dance company, Cottey-in-Motion.

Cecil Slaughter is a professor of the practice and the director of undergraduate studies in dance at Washington University.  He is a choreographer, dancer, and sometimes actor.  He received his dance training as a student at Jeraldyne's School of the Dance, and as an apprentice with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in Dayton, OH.  While attending Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, OH, he served as founder and director of the Wilberforce University Dance Ensemble. 

He was the founding artistic director of his company The Slaughter Project for from 2004 – 2015.  And is currently the founding artistic director of the WUDance Collective, the Performing Arts Department’s resident student dance company that performs throughout the St. Louis region.

His career as a professional dancer includes fourteen years with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company where he was a featured artist in many of the company's works by choreographers such as Alvin Ailey, Donald McKayle, Ulysses Dove, Talley Beatty, Doug Varone, James Truitte, and a host of others. During his time with DCDC, Mr. Slaughter performed extensively throughout the United States and his international tours include South Korea, Russia, France, and Germany.  The company has also been featured annually at such prestigious dance events such as Jacob's Pillow and the American Dance Festival.  Cecil was a featured artist in many of the company's works. They include the "Junkie" in Eleo Pomare's Blues for the Jungle, Alvin Ailey’s Streams, Ulysses Dove's Urban Folk Dance, "lil Lou" in Donald McKayle's District Storyville, and a soloist in McKayle's Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder. 

Cecil has worked with several professional dance and theatre companies including the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in collaboration with the Grammy Award winning a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock.  The University of Iowa, University of Dayton, Dance Theater of Dayton, Opus II, Ballet West Virginia, and Gateway Dance Theater. He has also choreographed on several local companies that includes That Uppity Theater Company, Upstream Theatre, St. Louis Black Rep, Consuming Kinetics Dance Company, and MADCO.  He has choreographed several productions for Washington University’s Performing Arts Department including Spring Awakening, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Hamlet and Metamorphoses.  As an actor his theatre credits include Darker Face of the Earth, The Bow Wow Club, Caseload, The Merchant of Venice, Applause Applause, and Blues for Mr. Charlie.

Slaughter has had several works recognized for choreographic achievement. These include two works that were selected to be performed at the American College Dance Festival Association's national dance showcase, Spirituals 1998 and GRID 2007. Two nominations for Outstanding Choreographer, the 1998 ACDFA/Dance Magazine Award, and the 2014 St. Louis Theater Circle Award for his work with the St. Louis Black Rep on their 2013 production of The Wiz.  In 2004 he was one of fourteen local choreographers commissioned by Dance St. Louis to create a work for Contemporary Moves, a dance concert commemorating the centennial celebration of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

He has served consecutive terms as a Kevin Kline Theater Awards Judge, as well as a grants panelist for the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council.  He currently serves on the board of directors for the Missouri Dance Organization.

Cynthia Kahn – Co-Treasurer of the Board for Missouri Dance Organization.  She teaches Dance Pedagogy and Structured Improvisation for the Performing Arts Department (PAD) and University College at Washington University and is Administrative Coordinator in PAD.  One of the founders of Off Track Dancers, a company that was dedicated to collaborative work with other St. Louis artists in non-traditional venues, and former Department Head in Dance at the Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis.  MA in Dance Education, Columbia University Teachers College.

Carmen Dence, Co-Treasurer of MDO, is the founder and artistic director of the colorful Grupo Atlantico, an instrumental and dance group that promotes the folklore and rich heritage of her native Colombia. She has been recognized as a “Master Artist” by the Missouri Folk Arts Program and has held classes and performances in literally hundreds of schools, libraries, and other venues since 1995. Simultaneously, she pursued a successful career in science at Washington University School of Medicine, where her passion has been mentoring minorities and attracting young women to science. She serves as a board member of the Hispanic Educational Cultural and Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Alliance, and Better Family Life.

ALICE BLOCH, EdD, Temple University; MA, UCLA, is an Isadora Duncan dancer and Arts Integration specialist based at COCA, St Louis MO. Alice leads professional development workshops and residencies on science, mathematics, and classroom management, including Dancing the Solar System and Math and Movement.  Alice presented How to Dance a Painting at for Moventure in Detroit in 2008, and has led workshops on the Brain Dance at Stephens College and for the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education.  A 5th generation Isadora Duncan dancer, her presentations include Dancing the Supermom:  Isadora Duncan as a Template for Today's Single Working Mothers, and The Physics of Duncan Dance.  Her 2016 residency at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Arts’ Art of American Dance exhibit featured the performance, Isadora and the New Woman and early childhood creative movement classes.  She is on the board of the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education and the Missouri Dance Organization.

Summer Beasley began her modern dance training at Webster University receiving a BFA in Dance. She continued her dance and theater education at Lindenwood University receiving a MFA in Theater with an emphasis in movement. Her choreography has been set on companies such as Gramo Danse in Panama City, Panama; REACH…a movement collective in Kansas City, MO; Dance Antonini in Washington, D.C.; Leverage Dance Theater, St. Louis; MADCO in St. Louis, MO; One River Mississippi River Project in St. Louis; Webster University Dance Ensemble; Lindenwood University Dance Ensemble; Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Dance Ensemble. Summer has performed professionally with MADCO (St. Louis), Intensely Fun Dance Theater (Seattle, WA), Reach…a movement collective (Kansas City, MO), That Uppity Theater Company (St. Louis), and Leverage Dance Theater. In 2004, Summer Beasley, In Concert was the first project supported by ANNONYArts. She continued working through ANNONYArts to produce and direct Panorama, and then collaborated with other ANNONYArts artists to produce Gramo Danse and FOUR: A Dance Collaboration. She is currently a company member of Karlovsky & Company Dance and is dance coordinator and yoga teacher at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School. Summer is also a registered yoga teacher and a registered children’s yoga teacher.

Bev Sonen graduated from the Dance/PE/Dance Therapy program at the U of Wisconsin back when Dance Therapy was just beginning as a profession. She danced with the Nancy Hauser Dance Company in Minneapolis, MN throughout the 70's followed by a solo career of teaching, performing, choreographing and creating costumes until today, with some retirement.

Ashley L. Tate is the founder, artistic director, and lead choreographer of Ashleyliane Dance Company (ADC), a full service dance organization based in the Greater St. Louis area. Ashley has studied dance for over 30 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Science from Texas Christian University, where she served two consecutive years as captain during her four-year stint as a member of the TCU Showgirls Dance Team. She has been an instructor for National Dance Alliance, a cast member in a Sony Dreamworks motion picture, and a bodily-kinesthetic intelligence presenter for St. Louis Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS).

Ms. Tate has choreographed for NCAA basketball and football halftime shows, studio recitals, theatre productions, professional dance organizations, and national and regional dance competitions. She teaches master classes and workshops in contemporary, hip hop, jazz, lyrical, and specialty classes in turns, leaps, and cardio hip hop. She was a member of the Saint Louis Rams Football Cheerleaders, serving as a captain for two years. She also served as the head cheer and dance coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and as an adjudicator for Cathy Roe Ultimate Dance Competitions. Ms. Tate is now a board member for Missouri Dance Organization, and a member of the National Dance Education Organization, and an adjudicator for Fury Dance Competitions. She is also a recently certified Zumba® instructor.

Ms. Tate is an adjunct professor of dance at Washington University in St. Louis and Webster University and the former chair of the dance department at Grand Center Arts Academy.  She was invited to a private audition for Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour and is a recipient of Grand Center’s Emerging Artist Visionary Award. She has served as a judge for the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation’s Teen Talent Showcase for several years. She is also a winner of the Pulse On Tour Dance Convention Protégé Scholarship, a Monsters of Hip Hop Scholarship (and a former Monsters Show Nominee), and is signed as a dancer and dance educator with Clear Talent Group in Los Angeles, California. Her work has chosen to be featured in choreographer’s showcases at the Peridance Capezio Center, TADA! Theater, and Baruch Performing Arts Center, all in New York City, as well as the Choreographer’s Carnival in Chicago, Illinois and Versatility Dance Festival in Boulder, Colorado and Santa Monica, CA.

Ms. Tate is a 2018 recipient of the Spencer T & Ann W. Olin Fellowship for Women in Graduate Study.  In 2020 completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance at Washington University in St. Louis.

Vanessa Woods is the owner and founder of Vitality Ballet and a former professional dancer with 25 years of performance experience and training. Originally from New Jersey, Vanessa moved to Missouri to dance with the St. Louis Ballet in 2010 dancing soloist and principal roles. She has performed with ballet companies all over the country including Colorado Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center. Vanessa was on faculty with the Saint Louis Ballet School, and has taught at numerous ballet schools across the country. She trained at the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase, Princeton Ballet, Miami City Ballet School and STEPS on Broadway in New York City. In an effort to make the physical and cognitive benefits of ballet accessible to older adults who could benefit the most from mobility and balance exercises coordinated to music, Vanessa founded Vitality Ballet in 2012 under the guidance of her mom (an Occupational Therapist and ballet fan). Vanessa is also an alumna of Washington University in St. Louis and a certified group fitness instructor who loves musical theatre, Latin dancing and antiquing.

Photo Credit: Kelly Pratt Kreidich

Missouri Dance Organization    P.O. Box 16659    St. Louis    MO    63105-9998

MDO is a state affiliate of the National Dance Education Organization
MDO is a professional associate of the Missouri alliance for arts education

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