Catherine Ulissey

Instructor in Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics

From Ballet to Broadway with slippers worn through, it’s now time to teach the dance to the disciplined and the new.

Catherine 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 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, Stephen Schwartz, and Joseph Stein). Following consecutively came the Tony Award-winning production of Rupert Holmes's The Mystery of Edwin Drood (where she worked with Tony 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 worked with legendary director Harold Prince and performed the role of Meg Giry for several years), and the original cast of Jules Styne’s The Red Shoes (directed by Academy Award-winning Stanley Donen and choreographed by Lar Lubovich). Ms. Ulissey has done additional choreography (and/or musical staging) for productions 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.

Born in New York City and raised in Saudi Arabia, Catherine Ulissey received her early 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.

In addition to her work with Wellesley College students, Ms. Ulissey taught for the Harvard University Dance Program for seventeen years and has served as dance faculty for the Boston Ballet School, American Repertory Theater, Dean College, Foothills Conservatory, and other institutions nationally. She is married to renowned geologist Dr. Robert M. Schoch and enjoys contributing to his research on ancient civilizations. Ms. Ulissey joins her husband (as a contributor) on the cover of the 2nd edition of their book, Forgotten Civilization: New Discoveries on the Solar-Induced Dark Age, and is the author of a new children’s book that focuses on the ancient mysteries. Adriana’s Ancient Mysteries: The Great Sphinx saw its first publication in German (Adrianas uralte Geheimnisse: Die Große Sphinx) in May of 2021 and its second publication in Italian (Gli antichi misteri di Adriana. La Grande Sfinge) in June of 2022.


  • B.A., Emerson College

Current and upcoming courses

  • This advanced beginner course is designed for the dancer who has already been introduced to the basics of ballet and wishes to further develop technique. Akin to stringing beads or speaking simple but fluid sentences in a new language recently learned, steps that were introduced in Ballet I will here be combined into simple but fluid dance combinations. Here is where the beginner becomes facile (and the more advanced dancer can enjoy a classical workout). Students will move in traditional fashion through barre and center exercises that are carefully crafted to be fun and strengthening yet not too difficult to remember or perform. Music is integral and artistic expression the ultimate aim, but this course focuses on the physical mastery of ballet’s basic movements. Prerequisite: PE 120 Ballet I or understanding of the fundamentals. Note: Those who have not taken the prerequisite will need to pass a placement evaluation at the first session (or beforehand) to determine that they understand the fundamentals of ballet and their level is high enough for this course. Feel free to contact the instructor in advance regarding registration.