The Dancers

Shaun James Kelly

JX3189 Shaun James Kelly for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court. Hansel & Gretel RNZB Dancer Kirby Selchow and Soloist Shaun James Kelly in Hansel & Gretel by Loughlan Prior_image credit Celia Walmsley

Over the past seven years, Shaun James Kelly has shown himself to be a versatile and compelling artist, taking on leading classical and contemporary roles and creating new, exciting work for the RNZB.

2020 saw Shaun creating a new work for the RNZB RAW studio performances. “The Things We Left Unsaid’ was born starting with a pas de deux created via ‘Zoom’ during Covid-19 lockdown. The duet was also performed as part of RAD 14+ Gala.

Although Covid-19 disrupted performances, Shaun was taking on solo roles in Twyla Tharp’s Waterbaby Bagatelles, Andrea Schermoly’s Within Without, Alice Topp’s Aurum and working on new choreography with Sarah Foster-Sproll in Ultra Folly.

2019 started strongly for Shaun. As Choreographer in Residence he created his first mainstage work The Ground Beneath Our Feet for the New Choreographic Series, alongside performing in James O’Hara’s The Sky Is Not So Different To Us, Perhaps…

Throughout the year, Shaun danced the roles of Rothbart in Black Swan, White Swan by Mário Radačovský, Waltz Boy in George Balanchine’s Serenade and one of the two lead couples in William Forsythe’s Artifact II. Shaun finished the year on a high, creating the character of dreamy, innocent Hansel, for the world premiere of Loughlan Prior’s Hansel & Gretel.

In 2018, New Zealand audiences saw Shaun as the Reverend Campbell in The Piano: the ballet, in Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort and Sechs Tänze as part of the Dancing with Mozart programme, and in three works in Strength & Grace, including one of the ‘sons’ in Danielle Rowe’s Remember, Mama. He closed the year performing the title role of the Nutcracker in Val Caniparoli’s The Nutcracker, as well as Chinese Tea. In 2017, Shaun received critical acclaim as Frédéri in L’Arlesienne by Roland Petit and Mercutio in Francesco Ventriglia’s Romeo and Juliet.

Other highlights to date include Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, first male soloist in Johan Kobborg’s Les Lutins, soloist in Jiří Kylián Soldier’s Mass, William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, the duet in Alexander Ekman’s Cacti, and Puck in Liam Scarlett’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a role he subsequently reprised in both Hong Kong and Wellington. Other international performances include the Wedding Couple pas de deux in Johan Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel’s Giselle, works by Andrew Simmons and Neil Ieremia, and Andonis Foniadakis’s Selon Désir in the UK and Italy.

Born in Perth, Scotland, Shaun trained at the Dance School of Scotland before undertaking training at the English National Ballet School. While at the School he toured and performed with English National Ballet in a number of productions including Derek Deane’s Swan Lake.

On graduating in 2011, Shaun took up a contract with the Tivoli Ballet Theatre in Copenhagen, where he danced solo roles in Bournonville repertoire including Napoli, La Ventana, Flower Festival at Genzano and Le Conservatoire. He also took the title roles in Dinna Bjorn’s The Steadfast Tin Soldier and danced the Nutcracker Prince in Peter Bo Bendixen’s The Nutcracker. Shaun joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2014.

Shaun was the winner of the 2016 RNZB Harry Haythorne Choreographic Award for his work Blanc. In 2017, he subsequently created Aura for Tutus on Tour and choreographed a work that featured in New Zealand designer Andrea Moore’s catwalk show at New Zealand Fashion Week. Shaun was appointed as Choreographer in Residence with the RNZB in 2018 and created a children’s ballet, Little Red, for Te Papa’s school holiday programme.

Shaun is supported by Mark and Louise Binns

Dancer Credits


In The Middle Somewhat Elevated

A Midsummer Night's Dream



The Wedding Couple






Romeo & Juliet

The Piano: the ballet

Reverend Campbell

Sechs Tanze and 1st pas de deux in Petit Mort

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

Waltz Boy


First Principal Couple

Artifact II

The Nutcracker

Russian Caviar

Black Swan, White Swan


Hansel & Gretel



Pas de trois