Allen's Broadway career as a dancer, singer and actor began in the chorus of Purlie. She next appeared in Raisin, then in the 1979 production West Side Story, for which she won a prestigious Drama Desk Award, as well as, her first Tony Award nomination. Allen received another Tony Award nomination in 1986 for her role as Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity.
Allen's choreography career soared in 1980 with the international hit TV series Fame. In 1988 she went behind the scenes to choreograph the new American Musical Carrie with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has continued to devote herself to that discipline. She holds the distinction of having choreographed the Academy Awards for five consecutive years. Allen collaborated with James Ingram to create Brothers of the Knight which played at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in the spring of 1998.Allen currently resides in Los Angeles, California.