Debbie Allen Headlines Commencement 2016
Iconic actress, dancer, choreographer, producer and director Debbie Allen will share wisdom from her three decades at the top of the performing arts world at the Boston Conservatory’s 2016 Commencement Ceremony on May 14.
The Conservatory will also honor superstar Broadway agent Joe Machota (M.M. ’95, musical theater) with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Degrees will be conferred on 209 students at the ceremony, which will be held at 5 p.m. in John Hancock Hall at the Back Bay Events Center, 180 Berkeley Street, Boston.
"We are so pleased and proud to be honoring these two extraordinary individuals alongside our graduates at commencement this year," said Boston Conservatory President Richard Ortner. "Both honorees continue to do work that directly impacts Conservatory students: two of this year's dance graduates came to us from the school at Debbie Allen's amazing dance company in Los Angeles. And Joe Mahota has been a wonderfully generous advisor and mentor to Conservatory theater graduates from his influential desk at New York's CAA. We are grateful to them both for joining us."
During her illustrious career, Allen has earned three Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, five NAACP Image Awards, a Drama Desk Award, an Astaire Award and the Olivier Award. She holds four honorary Doctorate degrees and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
As a dancer and choreographer, Allen trained and worked with many dance world’s legends, including Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp. She has been an artist in residence at the Kennedy Center for more than 15 years, was appointed by President George W. Bush to represent the United States as a Cultural Ambassador of Dance and has choreographed the Academy Awards 10 times. In 2001, she founded the nonprofit Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles.
As an actress, she has appeared on Broadway, on television and in film. Her starring roles include both the film and television version of Fame and the popular television show, Grey’s Anatomy. Both television series are also on her lengthy list of directing and producing credits, which include Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, Jane the Virgin, Empire, A Different World, Everybody Hates Chris, Stompin’ At The Savoy, Polly, That’s So Raven, and on stage, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (on Broadway and London’s West End.) She was also the creative force behind Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated epic, Amistad.
Distinguished Alumnus Joe Machota is Head of the Theater Department at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the world’s leading entertainment and sports agency and is a regular on the list of “Broadway’s 50 Most Powerful People.”
His road to becoming a premier theater and film agent began with a Master of Music in musical theater degree from the Boston Conservatory in 1995. After spending a decade as a working Broadway actor (he was the original Sky in the Broadway production of Mamma Mia!and starred in a number of national touring and Las Vegas shows), he began moonlighting for a friend’s talent agency in New York.
Now, after more than a decade at CAA, Machota represents many of the world’s leading directors, actors and musicians, including Scarlett Johansson, Jim Parsons, Neil Patrick Harris, Ansel Elgort, Marisa Tomei, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Sutton Foster, Christian Borle, Jack O’Brien, Casey Nicholaw, Joe Mantello, Michael Grandage, George C. Wolfe and Diane Paulus.
Machota has also been named in Out Magazine’s “Out 100” list of influential LGBT people and Variety’s “The Gotham 50” list of influential New Yorkers.
At this year’s commencement ceremony, the Boston Conservatory will be awarding 114 Bachelor’s degrees, 11 Graduate Performance Diplomas, 79 Master’s degrees, 3 Professional Studies Certificates and 2 prestigious Artist Diplomas.