Born in New York City and raised in Saudi Arabia, Catherine Ulissey received dance training at The National Academy of Arts high school in Illinois, where she graduated with honors. She received additional dance training on merit scholarship with American Ballet Theatre and David Howard in NYC. In 2002, she earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude) in Visual and Media Arts from Emerson College in Boston.
Ms. Ulissey began performing professionally at the age of 16, dancing with the Maryland Ballet and as a soloist with the Iranian Contemporary Ballet. At 17, she joined the Eliot Feld Ballet Co. in New York City, becoming a soloist and principal performer as well as the company’s first Ballet Mistress. In addition to performing Mr. Feld’s original choreography for over seven years, Ms. Ulissey performed leading roles in works by guest choreographers David Parsons and Pilobolus, and performed as a guest artist with companies and festivals internationally, including The Pavlova Celebration, numerous productions of The Nutcracker, and New York City Opera's Song of Norway.
In 1986, Ms. Ulissey began performing on Broadway in the original cast of Joseph Stein’s Rags (working with Broadway luminaries Charles Strouse and Stephen Schwartz). Following consecutively came the Tony Award-winning production of Rupert Holmes's The Mystery of Edwin Drood (where she worked with award-winning choreographer Graciela Daniele and Academy Award-winning director Rob Marshall), the original cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera (where she performed the role of Meg Giry for many years), and the original cast of Jules Styne’s The Red Shoes (directed by Stanley Donen and choreographed by Lar Lubovich). Ms. Ulissey has done additional choreography (and/or musical staging) for musicals off-Broadway and nationally, and both supervised and performed with the world touring company of The Phantom of the Opera. She has taught master classes internationally and been entrusted with teaching throughout her many years as a performer.
In addition to her work with the Harvard University community, Ms. Ulissey teaches at Wellesley College and has served as dance faculty for Boston Ballet, Dean College, American Repertory Theater, Foothills Conservatory, and other institutions nationally. She is married to renowned geologist, Dr. Robert M. Schoch.
Student feedback: "Catherine Ulissey is a joy to learn from and is easily one of the best teachers, dance or not, that I've ever had. Her class consistently brightens my whole day and has encouraged me to continue learning dance...She's always very kind and encouraging, offering advice to every individual. She cares about everyone's progress in the class and takes the time to explain the movements to make sure that everyone can dance safely. I can't wait to take the class again!"