Alumni Awards: Professional Achievement Awards

Formerly known as the Emerging Artist Awards

2024 Winners

Professional Achievement in Music Award

Nancy Yunhwa Rao (MM ’89, voice and music theory; PhD ’94, music theory)

Nancy Rao headshot wearing suitcoat and purple shirt, brick wall in background

Nancy Yunhwa Rao is a Distinguished Professor of Music at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. She holds a PhD in music theory from the University of Michigan. She began her career as a theorist writing about American ultra-modernist music. Her 2007 article “Ruth Crawford’s Imprint on Contemporary Composition” won the Lowens Award from the Society for American Music as the year’s best article.

Rao’s most impactful contribution to music scholarship at large is her 2017 book, Chinatown Opera Theater in North America, which explores the iconic theaters and migration networks that integrated Cantonese opera into North American cultures. She sheds light on the often-unheard voices of Chinese Americans in American music history. The monograph was recognized by three book awards: from the Society for American Music, the American Musicological Society, and the Association for Asian American Studies, as well as a Citation of Merit from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.

Rao has been elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is praised for her transpacific perspective that offers a new framework for understanding contemporary music and expands the scope of American music studies. Rao has held numerous important leadership roles within major professional societies. Rao is currently editor-in-chief of the journal American Music. Together with Philip Bohlman at University of Chicago, she co-edited the book series Big Issues in Music at the University of Chicago Press.

Professional Achievement in Theatre Award

Mike Mosallam (BFA ’01, musical theatre)

Mike Mosallam headshot with arms folded, wearing a dark blue collared shirt, grey background

Mike Mosallam is a Tony Award-winning producer, director, and writer for theatre, film, and television. Through his production company, Mike Mosallam Productions, he and his team have produced short films: Breaking Fast (Cannes Film Festival) and Brothers (12-time jury & audience award winner), both written and directed by Mosallam, along with the short film Ubuntu, a co-production with the Muslim Public Affairs Council. His feature film debut, Breaking Fast (based on the short), is now available on Apple TV, Amazon, and anywhere movies are rented. He is the creator and co-executive producer of the 2011 critically acclaimed TLC series, All-American Muslim. Mosallam also served as an executive creative consultant on season two of Hulu’s Ramy. His second feature film, an adaptation of Heather Raffo’s Nine Parts of Desire, premiered on PBS in the spring of 2023. His latest script, The Untitled Chubby Muslim Project, was a 2020 Black List selection. Currently in development are a TV series adaptation of Breaking Fast and a new tennis-inspired rom-com entitled Doubles.

On the theatre side, Mosallam has produced and directed more than 100 theatrical productions. Most notably, through his friends and partners at Runyonland Productions, he has joined the producing teams of the recent revival of Parade (Tony Award), starring Ben Platt; the revival of A Doll’s House (six Tony nominations), starring Jessica Chastain; Gutenberg! The Musical!; the revival of The Wiz; and the commercial transfer of Appropriate, starring Sarah Paulson. He is a proud Muslim and Lebanese American. Mike is represented by the Gersh Agency, Color Creative by Issa Rae, and Granderson Des Rochers, LLP.

Professional Achievement in Dance Award

Alexandra Beller (BFA ’94, dance)

Alexandra Beller studio headshot wearing black blouse, with shadowed dark red background

Alexandra Beller has been the artistic director of Alexandra Beller/Dances since 2002. She was a Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company member from 1995–2001. Beller has created over 50 original dance theatre works, presented at theaters and universities throughout the United States and with companies in Korea, Hong Kong, Oslo, and Cyprus.

Beller currently choreographs predominantly for theatre. Her Off-Broadway credits include Sense and Sensibility (Sheen Center, Gym at Judson; received the Helen Hayes Award, Lucille Lortel Award nomination, IRNE Best Choreography), The Mad Ones (59E59), Bedlam’s Peter Pan (Duke Theatre), and How to Transcend a Happy Marriage (Lincoln Center Theater). Her regional credits include Two Gentlemen of Verona (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), As You Like It (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Folger Shakespeare Library), Taylor Mac’s The Young Ladies of… and Chang(e) (HERE Arts Center). Beller’s current projects include choreographing Antonio’s Song (Contemporary American Theater Festival, Milwaukee Rep) and Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes) (La MaMa and touring), and directing/choreographing Macbeth (Theatre Row). She wrote and directed an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for 92NY.

Beller was on faculty at Princeton, 2015–22, and teaches at the Laban Institute for Movement Studies, HB Studio, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate program. In addition to a BFA in dance, she has an MFA in choreography and is a CMA (Certified Movement Analyst).

Past Recipients


Leah Claiborne
Thomas Laub
Erika “Red” Stowall


Michael Avitabile
Gina Rattan
Briana Ashley Stuart


Lizzie Leopold
Ana Maria Otamendi
Adam Wachter


Emily Berman
Amy Petrongelli
Tara Sheena


Leah Ives
Austin Wulliman
Angela Lewis


Lucy Dhegrae
Stephen Siercks
Dee Tomasetta


Darren Criss
Shannon McGinnis
Ali Woerner & Thayer Jonutz


Matthew Ernst
Ricki Mason
Stephen Sposito


Xan Burley & Alex Springer
Celia Keenan-Bolger
Dominique Morisseau


Rodney A. Brown
Rachel Hoffman
James Wolk


Nadine Balbeisi
Zachary Booth
Kelly Hirina


Juliana Athayde
Nicholas Blaemire
Sean Panikkar


Julie Blume
Xiang Gao
Rachel Laritz


Esther Chae
Jeremy Kittell
Michael Spencer Phillips


Sam Davis
Ben Klein
Matthew Rose


Michael Fabiano
Christopher Jamros
Leyya Tawil


Jesse Blumberg
Miriam Shor
Julie Tice


Hunter Foster
Daniel Bernard Roumain


Damon Gupton