Kelly began her dance studies at the age of three, studying with Rock School West, Brandywine Ballet, and the Academy of the Dance, with summer intensive training at Washington Ballet and Boston Ballet. Her repertoire includes a variety of roles in classical ballets such as La Bayadere, Coppelia, La Paquita, Sleeping Beauty, and the Nutcracker. While working towards her BA in Communication and Art History, Kelly took a year-long leave of absence from the University of Delaware to dance with the Ballet Theatre of Maryland under the direction of Diana Cuatto. She then went on to finish her degree while dancing with ContempraDance Theatre, which led her to perform in the Philly Fringe Festival and tour throughout Poland as a guest performer at the International Dance Festival in Ladek Zdroj, Poland. Upon graduation Kelly moved to Washington, DC where she was asked to perform with a select group of dancers under the direction of Miya Hisaka, Founder/Director of El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador. Kelly's most recent performances include work with ContempraDance Theatre and the International Ballet Theatre. Kelly received an award for her choreography through the Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition and has taught at the prestigious Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia as well as ContempraDance Studio, Delaware Dance Company, and Eagle Dance Studio. Since the formation of 180 Dance Company in 2009, Kelly has led the company in performances in the Philadelphia Dance Collective, the Philly Fringe Festival, and in various public performances at local churches, art centers, and other community events. Currently, Kelly serves as the Artistic Director for 180 Dance Company while working full time as a Landscape Designer at Burkholder and pursuing her Master’s in Landscape Architecture at Temple University.

180 Dance Company is a contemporary ballet company located in the Philadelphia area that encourages self-reflection and positive changes in the world through the art of dance. We seek to offer our audience an emotional performance that resonates with each individual by focusing on the human experience and the joys and struggles that unite us all. Our company holds public performances at a variety of venues throughout the year. We are also available for bookings at workshops, retreats, charitable events, weddings, school assemblies, community events, and other social functions. For more info, visit http://www.180dance.org.

Kelly and her dance company 180 Dance Company will be performing at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) in "Symphony In White: A Portrait of Peace" on April 16 at 2:30pm and 7:30pm (Stewart Auditorium, Moore College of Art & Design 1916 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103). 180 Dance Company and Moore College of Art & Design have united in a groundbreaking production that emphasizes message over medium through a harmonious blend of dance, fashion, and fine art. Original costume designs by Moore fashion students combined with all new choreography by 180 Dance Company set to classical music by Parisian composer Maurice Ravel. Join 180 Dance Company for a thought-provoking and visually stunning depiction of peace that will leave you feeling inspired.  Purchase Tickets Here: http://pifa.org/events/980191010

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My first inspiration to dance was from the Mikhail Baryshnikov/Gelsey Kirkland version of the Nutcracker. At just under two years of age, I saw the Nutcracker on TV and immediately connected with the dancing. I begged my parents for dance lessons every day from that point forward until they finally signed me up for classes at age three.

2. Who is the one person in your field that you haven't worked with that you would like to? I would love to work with Mia Michaels. She is such a great choreographer and has really pushed the envelope for the dance community by making dance more relevant for the general public.

3. What made you start 180 Dance Company and how did you come up with the company's philosophy? Shortly after moving back to the Philadelphia area I was connected with an actress from England who had been sent to the Philadelphia area to form a U.S. branch of Saltmine, a U.K. based Christian theatre company. She and I spoke and soon discovered that we shared similar visions. After performing with the theatre company for a season, I began integrating dance into the company’s repertoire and 180 Dance Company quickly developed as an offshoot of Saltmine. The name 180 comes from the idea of inspiring a 180 degree transformation in the lives of others. The arts are such a powerful form of communication and I feel it is important to use them as a tool to inspire positive change in the world.

4. What excites you most about being part of PIFA? How do you decide what to perform for a festival like PIFA as opposed to a season show? I think the concept behind PIFA is brilliant. I love that the festival ties together art history with innovative works of the present while also uniting artists from different disciplines. Philadelphia has a progressive art scene and it’s great that we are able to showcase the talent of the city through this festival. When I heard of the festival’s emphasis on collaborative works and Paris, I immediately felt that my idea for “Symphony in White: A Portrait of Peace” would fit in well with the theme of the festival.

5. What is the best advice you've ever received? That life is all about balance. In addition to directing 180 Dance Company, I work full time and attend grad school. It can be a lot to manage at times, so I try very hard to maintain a work/life balance and set my priorities straight.

BONUS QUESTION:

6. Favorite way to spend your day off? Experiencing new things with friends and family, walking around in nature, or sometimes just sleeping!

 

This interview is brought to you with the support of PIFA (Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts). If you liked the interview above and want to help ensure that PIFA becomes an annual event please Like their Facebook Page and Follow them on Twitter!

Geri Jewell

Hunter Ryan Herdlicka