With his choreography reviewed as ’classical majesty’, ‘spellbinding brilliance’ and ‘pushing classical technique to the edge’, Scottish-born Shaun James Kelly is staking his claim as one of this country’s most exciting innovators of classical dance choreography.
Through his training at the Dance School of Scotland and English National Ballet School, and his professional career dancing for Denmark’s Tivoli Ballet Theatre and the past seven years with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Shaun has become known as a versatile, compelling performer. He’s worked with leading, top-tier creatives from across the globe, which has inspired him to develop his own voice and create exciting works that challenge and fulfil dancers.
Shaun quickly looked for choreographic opportunities in New Zealand, collaborating with Kiwi musician Martin Bryant and creating the choreography for his music video, Out of Sight Out of Mind in 2014.
Shaun was the winner of the RNZB’s 2016 Harry Haythorne Choreographic Award for his work Blanć. He was then asked to create his first work for the RNZB titled Aura, which was performed throughout the country as part of 2017’s Tutus on Tour. Shaun has also created for the catwalk in New Zealand Fashion Week, collaborating with Kiwi designer Andrea Moore for her ‘AM FIT’ collection. He then created for the 2017 Harry Haythorne presentation, work titled Dona Nobis Pacem | The Fallen.
In 2018, Shaun was given the prestigious title of Choreographer in Residence by RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker.
Shaun’s exciting venture for 2018 was the adaptation of the much-loved children’s story Little Red Riding Hood, Little Red, reaching over 5,000 New Zealanders throughout the country. This work was commissioned through the RNZB and Te Papa and was further performed as part of Auckland Live’s ‘Pick’n’Mix’.
Most recently, Shaun was part of the RNZB’s 2019 Choreographic Series with his work The Ground Beneath Our Feet.
“The stand-out of the evening is The Ground Beneath Our Feet by Kelly. It is a well-crafted and playful work.” Lyne Pringle, Stuff
“But the long-awaited awe, classical majesty and exhilarating choreography…belongs to The Ground Beneath Our Feet by Shaun James Kelly. With vivid structure, exciting and unrelenting momentum…providing balletic exhilaration, technical intensity, and spell-binding brilliance. The audience receives Kelly’s work with riotous applause.” Greer Robertson, Theatrereview