Over the past six 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.

Shaun James Kelly, born in Perth, Scotland, trained at the Dance School of Scotland before undertaking training at the English National Ballet School. From an early age Shaun had a keen interest for choreography, winning prizes during his schooling at the Dance School of Scotland and English National Ballet School. While at School he toured and performed with English National Ballet in a number of productions, including Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet and Derek Deane’s Swan Lake at the London Coliseum. 

After graduating, he joined the Tivoli Ballet Theatre in Copenhagen, where he danced solo roles in Bournonville repertoire including Napoli, La Ventana, Flower Festival in Genzano and Le Conservatoire

In 2014 Shaun joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet and has danced many roles nationally and internationally. These Include the principal role of Frédéri in L’Arlésienne by Roland Petit, Mercutio in Francesco Ventriglia’s Romeo and Juliet, soloist in Johan Kobborg’s Les Lutins, Jiří Kylián’s Soldier’s Mass, Petite Mort and Sechs Tänze, Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, and Puck in Liam Scarlett’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Shaun quickly looked for choreographic opportunities in New Zealand. He collaborated with Kiwi musician Martin Bryant and created the choreography for his music video, ‘Out of Sight Out of Mind’ from his album The Heart of Katherine in 2014.

Shaun was the winner of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2016 Harry Haythorne Choreographic Award for his work Blanć set to Vivaldi's beautiful Four Seasons, recomposed by Max Richter. 

He was then asked to create his first work for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Aura, which premiered in Nelson and was performed throughout the country as part of Tutus on Tour in 2017. Shaun has also created for the catwalk for New Zealand Fashion Week, collaborating with Kiwi designer Andrea Moore for her AM FIT collection. For the 2017 Harry Haythorne presentation, Shaun created Dona Nobis Pacem | The Fallen, again to music by Max Richter. 

In 2018, Artistic Director Patricia appointed Shaun as Choreographer in Residence at the RNZB.

Shaun’s most recent work was Little Red, an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood. It was commissioned through the RNZB and Te Papa’s school holiday programme as a free event for families. It has been further performed in Auckland’s Aotea Centre and Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna, as part of Auckland Live’s Pick & Mix, and to date has been enjoyed by more than 5,000 people.

In 2019 Shaun was commissioned to create his first work for the RNZB’s main stage as part of the New Choreographic Series.