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Famous dancers, choreographers among UC alumni

Suzanne Farrell, CCM Prep ’50s, HonDoc ’90

Suzanne Farrell earned accolades as one of the 20th century’s most important dancers during her 27-year career with the New York City Ballet. In 1960, she began studying at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet under a Ford Foundation scholarship. In '61, she joined the New York City Ballet (NYCB), where she was promoted to principal dancer four years later, and Balanchine created many roles for her.

She retired from performing in 1989, an unusually long time for a ballet career. For the next 10 years, she worked with ballets in Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Moscow (the Bolshoi Ballet) before founding the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She received a National Medal of Arts and a Kennedy Center Honor.

Link: Watch video of her dancing with Sesame Street characters.

Peggy Lyman Hayes, att. CCM '68

Peggy Lyman was a principal dancer with the Martha Graham Co. from 1973-88. Further credits included a CBS television appearance with Rudolph Nureyev, international productions and extensive work as a choreographer, director and producer. She also founded the dance division at the University of Hartford and remains is a  master instructor at the Martha Graham School for Contemporary Dance and is re-staging Graham's works for the Martha Graham Trust.

Link: Watch her performance on YouTube.

Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, CCM '96

Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch is a choreographer, teacher and principal dancer with Martha Graham Dance Co., with whom she tours internationally. Prior to joining the company in 2002, she danced with Philadanco and Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre. She has also taught for the Princeton Ballet School, Long Island University, the Peridance Capezio Center, the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, the nonprofit Art of Motion, the Wyoming Seminary Performing Arts Institute, Arts YOUniversity and the Virginia Arts Festival.

She is also co-founder of the Big Sky Project, a nonprofit performing arts organization interested in the healing powers of the indigenous arts.

Lee Roy Reams, CCM ’64, MA (CCM) ’82, HonDoc ’98

Lee Roy Reams is a renowned dancer, choreographer, actor, dancer and director. The New York Times once hailed him as "Broadway's song and dance man nonpareil." 

Selected for awards:
“42nd Street”
('81, as Bill Lawlor, received both Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for Best Featured Actor in a Musical)

Also directed and choreographed:

  • "An Evening with Jerry Herman" (in which he starred)
  • "Hello, Dolly!" revival ('95-96 with Carol Channing)


Justin Bohon

Justin Bohon

Justin Bohon, CCM '00

Justin Bohon is a Broadway actor whom the Astaire Awards named Best Male Dancer in May '02 and who received nominations from both the Drama Desk Awards and the Theatre World Award for his performance in the "Oklahoma!" revival in which he starred as Will Parker.


Karen Olivo, CCM '97

Karen Olivo was named Best Female Dancer on Broadway by the Fred & Adele Astaire Awards in 2008 for her portrayal of Vanessa in the show "In the Heights" (produced by Kevin McCollum, CCM '84). She also won a Drama Desk Award for the part. The next year, she received a Tony Award for playing Anita in the "West Side Story" revival and was nominated for an Astaire Award, a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award. Her popularity has also soared on TV and the silver screen.


Josh Prince, CCM ’96

Josh Prince is a noted Broadway choreographer who was nominated for an Astaire Award in 2014 in the category of Outstanding Choreographer for a Broadway Show — for his work on the new musical "Beautiful: The Carol King Musical."

After graduation in the ’90s, Prince first moved to Los Angeles where he performed in “The Producers” with Jason Alexander and Martin Short. Next he received a grant from DanceBreak, a high-profile showcase for professional choreographers in NYC, to assemble two pieces. In 2008, he was selected as the choreographer for the new Broadway show “Shrek: The Musical,” for which he was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Choreography in 2009. In 2010, he choreographed the Kennedy Center Spring Gala. In early 2012, he was in London, setting  his original choreography for the West End production of "Shrek."

At right are dancers in the 2013-14 Broadway show "Beautiful:
The Carole King Musical." Four alumni in the show include
Alysha Deslorieux
(CCM ’12), Daniel Torres (CCM ’01),
Sara Sheperd
(CCM ’08), and Melvin Tunstall III (CCM ’98),
as well as Prince who choreographed it. The show was
nominated for seven Tonys and won two.


  • Watch a video of the "Shrek" show.
  • See a longer list of Prince's Broadway credits.

Ryan Breslin, CCM '11

One year after graduation, Ryan Breslin was nominated for a Fred & Adele Astaire Award as Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Musical for his work in the Disney show "Newsies: The Musical." Although Breslin lost, we lost in the respectable company of Matthew Broderick and Hugh Jackman.


  • See video of Breslin dancing a "Newsies" number for ABC's "Nightline."
  • See a video of Breslin talking about "Newsies" and demonstrating techniques.


Savannah Wise, CCM '06

In 2010, Savannah Wise received a Fred & Adele Astaire Award nomination her starring role as Evelyn Nesbit in “Ragtime,” a play composed by Stephen Flaherty, CCM '82, and produced by Kevin McCollum, '84, HonDoc '05.

In summer '09, Wise was an understudy who stepped into the leading role of Sherrie in "Rock of Ages" when the original star left the show. Thrilled with Wise's performance, lead producer Matt Weaver said, “It is that rare and fortunate instance in show business where it becomes necessary for the understudy to step into the role, and she exceeds your wildest expectations.”


Kearran Giovanni resting next to a tree

Kearran Giovanni, CCM '03

Kearran Giovanni received an Astaire Award nomination for Best Female Dancer in a Broadway Musical for her performance in the revival of "Guys and Dolls" in ’09.


Kate Kahn and Dean Martin on Dean's show

Kate Kahn with Dean Martin

Kate Kahn, att. CCM ‘60s

Kate Kahkn was one a famous Dean’s Girl from 1967-70, appearing with the host on the “Dean Martin Variety Hour.” Prior to moving to Los Angeles for her television career, she performed on stage in New York City.

All Famous Alumni categories …

-- page compiled by Deborah Rieselman, updated 10-14