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NOTABLE ALUMNI

Keeping the Spirit of DESA Alive

Alumni and current students are the heartbeat of Ellington. We are proud that many continue to impact the community long after graduating. We are also fortunate that many alumni choose to share their talents as teacher-artists for the next generation of Ellington students. Please take a look at our most notable alumni along with those who are currently serving as teacher-artists, board members, or support staff at Ellington!

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Writer on African-American style, race, gender and hip-hop culture (Hair Tales: The Parlor (2016), Behind the Curtain: Eclipsed (2016) and The Hair Tales (2022)

Instrumental Music

Founder of Washington Women in Jazz Festival, pianist, vocalist and composer

Marjuan Canady '03

Theatre

Broadway Producer and  award-winning Caribbean-American artist, entrepreneur, educator, and literacy advocate

Gregory Charles Royal

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Musician, trombonist, composer, writer, co-founder of The BeBop Channel, founder of the New York Jazz Film Festival, judge on America's Hot Musician. Artistic Director of the American Youth Symphony (AYS) in D.C.

Dance

Dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance

Vocal Music

International opera mezzo soprano

Theatre

Actress (The Cosby Show), playwright, producing artist, educator, activist, and author (What a Piece of Work is Man! Full-Length Plays for Leading Women)

Yasha Jackson '03

Theatre

Actress (The Flight Attendant (2020), Black Mirror (2011) and Manifest (2018)

Theatre

Actress, singer, and songwriter (Martin, 3rd Rock from the Sun)

Vocal Music

Grammy-nominated musician and composer

Adam Serwer '01

Theatre

NYT best-Selling author (The Cruelty is the Point), CNN Commentator, staff writer for The Atlantic 

Wallace Roney '78

Instrumental Music

Three time Grammy-award winning trumpeter and composer

Tony Terry

Vocal Music

Singer

Rosalind “Roz” White '88

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Vocal musician, actor, motivational speaker, and educator

Literary Media & Communications

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter
 

 

 

Quique Aviles '85

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DC poet, performer, and community activist

Elana Casey '02

Visual Arts

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Marc Cary

Instrumental Music

Post-bop jazz pianist

Matthew Dickens '79

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Actor, singer, dancer and writer, producer, director

Donnell Floyd '85

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Founding member of Go-Go band Rare Essence 

Tanya Hamilton '86

Visual Arts

Film director and producer (Night Catches Us (2010), The Chi (2018) and Queen Sugar (2016)

Dance

Dancer with Alvin Ailey
 

 

Theatre

Producer, known for Peace of Mind with Taraji (2020), Entertainment Tonight (1981), The Real (2013), Executive Director at The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, Former Director of Arts at Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Vocal Music & Visual Arts

Opera singer

Instrumental Music

Grammy-award winner singer-songwriter, rapper, and bassist

Serena Reeder '01

Theatre

Actor, writer, and director

Sylver Logan Sharpe

Vocal Music

Soul, jazz, gospel & blues singer

Museum Studies

Conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media and popular culture

Instrumental Music

Grammy-winning bassist

Vocal Music

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter

Visual Arts

Grammy-nominated progressive hip-hop artist

Dave Chappelle '91

Theatre

Emmy and Grammy-winning comedian and actor

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Fulbright scholar, ethnomusicologist, Africanist/African Americanist scholar, cultural activist, and Black music practitioner

Nekisha Durrett '96

Visual Arts

A mixed-media artist who employs the visual language of mass media to bring forward histories that objects, places, and words embody, but are not often celebrated.

Johnny Gill '85

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R&B singer-songwriter and actor

Theatre

Emmy and Tony-nominated actor (24, Walking Dead, In The Heights, Straight Outta Compton

Sandra Jackson-DuMont

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Director and CEO of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, former Director of Education at MOMA

Dance

Co-Director of the Ailey School, dancer, choreographer and educator

Theatre

Actress (The Batman (2022), The Woman King (2022) and How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2022)

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NAACP-award winning actor and comedian (Ray, Selma Lord Selma, Dead Presidents, and Menace 2 Society, and the TV series The Family Business, Sacrifice, and Saints & Sinners)

Theatre

Actor (As The World Turns, Why Did I Get Married?, and Greenleaf)

Visual Arts

Artist and advocate

Instrumental Music

Singer-songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist and violist

Samira Wiley '05

Theatre

Emmy, SAG and GLADD-winning actress (Orange is the New Black and Handmaid’s Tale)

ALUMNI CURRENTLY ON
STAFF & BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Dance

Modern I, Dance Improvisation, Dance Orientation

Visual Arts

Actress (Morning Glory (2010), Everybody's Fine (2009) and Heights (2005), Theatre Teacher

 

 

Robin Y. Harris '89

Theatre

Chair of Technical Design & Production Department, Staff Representative to DESAP Board

Fran Scott '78

Visual Arts

Instrument Music Teacher

Gregory Watkins '04

Theatre

Singer, musician, musical director, Director of SEL & Student Services

Robert Blount '79

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Pianist, Vocal Music Teacher

Gabrielle Dubose '79

Dance

English Teacher

Kieron C. Irvine

Visual Arts

Instrument Music Teacher

Monique D. Spells '99

Vocal Music

Singer, Chair of Vocal Music

Kaia Calhoun

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Theatre Teacher

Mike Easton '81

Visual Arts

Chair of Visual Arts Department

Brenda Morris, Esq. '79

Theatre

Senior Executive, Ellington Fund Vice President

Nikki Sutton '92

Dance

Physical Education, Dance Potpourri, Dance Composition, Modern Dance II

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