Stephen Kelly: SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre - Santa Barbara, CA U.S.A.

Photo:  coming soon

Choreographer: Stephen Kelly

Company:  SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre


Short Artist/Company Bio:
Stephen Kelly is an incredibly lucky guy, whose good fortune has enabled him to work with great choreographers and dancers such as Misa Kelly, Alice Condodina, Nancy Colahan, Tonia Shimin, Sheri Alley, Chauncey Parsons, Alyson Mattoon, and Sam Mitchell.
Co-founder of the Future Traditions Foundation, and now co-Artistic Director of SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre, he has learned much from the energy and imagination of his partner, Misa Kelly.

Stephen Kelly began his musical studies at the age of thirteen with the Russian maestra Galina Michniuk, formerly of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and received extensive further training from the Hungarian conductor, statesman, and piano virtuoso Erno Daniel.

Drawn to the music of India from an early age, he received his initiation into formal study from the tabla master Krishna Govinda while living in Paris. Stephen Kelly has concertized in France, Spain, and Central America as well as across the United States. He has recorded music of Chopin for Hollywood, served as judge of the finals of the Knox Concerto Competition, composed music heard at an international festival in Prague, and performed with members of the Paris Opera Ballet, Ballets Blaska, American Repertory Dance Theatre, and Rep-West Dance Company – with his collaborations earning him the EMO Award for Artistic Excellence.

The Los Angeles Times called his performance at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex “superb.” Pierrette Germain of France-Musique described his playing as “marked by interior lyricism and passion… the performance of the contemporary American Works was a revelation.” ABC de Sevilla praised him for “a very felicitous interpretation of the contemporary music.” Pierre Fournier, conductor of the Toledo Symphony wrote: “a masterful performance, especially in the Beethoven sonata…” Kennedy Center Award-winning composer Dane Rudhyar declared: “The best performance of my music I ever heard.” And Bob Hunka, music director for Paramount, wrote “your music works beautifully in the context of the film (Hardcover).” Kelly is unique among concert pianists inasmuch as he has developed the ability to perform not only classical European music, but also the ability to improvise within the strict forms of Indian classical music.

In 1998, Stephen Kelly co-founded (with sarod maestro Montino Bourbon and tabla virtuoso Gregg Johnson) a trio dedicated to a new form of music: classical in its roots and yet spontaneous and playful in its audacity. The Santa Barbara News-Press declared “the key element for this trio is the pianism of Stephen Kelly. Thoroughly trained along conservatory lines and experienced in both competitions and the concert stage, Kelly possesses a major-league technique. His keen ear has been honed the last five years by studying the music of India…the timbre of the piano was breathtakingly beautiful.”
More recently, he has studied and created music derived from West African sources.

Artist Statement/Philosophy/Mission Statement:
Is life purpose or porpoise? By broad slow wings comes good sense - but I no longer listen to its crow's voice. Give me new flowers, flowers that smell of honey. Run with me to the wind, whose bitter caress is not felt behind the walls of the town.
We'll go to the bank of the river, and from the green shadow of Spring, watch the little clouds' play: the birthing and dissolving in the blue.

Some achievments of the last five years:
There have been islands of joy in music: intensive studies of tabla with Pandit Upadhaya, concerts with the astounding soprano Carol Ann Manzi, wild affairs with drunken African drummers at the Music Academy of the West. New compositions for piano and percussion, ventures in electronic music, refinements to some raga and tala inspired compositions. And, performances of Beethoven, Chopin, Ginastera, Scarlatti, Villa-Lobos, and Roger Bradley.
Returning to choreography, a piece was born out my love for African dance, and performed in Venice Beach, Santa Barbara, and in Monterey.
Drawing the many Muses of Nuria, Charles, Brooke and other outstanding models, with the inspiration Colin Gray and Lucian Freud has birthed some amusing visions across my easle.
Also not to be sneezed at: Filming dance at MOMA in New York, dancing in the subway, or down 5th Avenue, getting a lot of sweaty hugs from hard working, fast creating dancers.

What do you hope to gain from the experience of participating in this festival?
The exhilaration of lending a hand to something fleeting, but lasting, something of one year that becomes the seed of many great years.
Friendships with fascinating indivduals from different climes and cultures, and ideas to fuel more fun and frenzied hours in the studio and on stage.

Have you participated in other festivals or showcases?
Yes! At Monterey and Venice Beach. Also, in Santa Barbara, I have co-produced (with the brilliant Juliana Bertelsen)dance productions at Center Stage Theater. Of course, I have accompanied artists such as Tonia Shimin, Nancy Colahan, and Misa Kelly in their festival appearances, too.

If so – what were elements you enjoyed and what areas do you think could have been improved on?
I've appreciated the astonishing power of each performer, as well as the cumulative energy of each person's intention to communicate, shake, and transport the audience.
Needed: Some group classes, and a big kitchen to make a meal, cookin' it up together!

What Stephen will be bringing to the Festival
Stephen submitted a work in progress proposal using the following description for the group piece he intends to bring to the Festival:
"Cogitating on independent currents that abruptly turn into a line of Shakespeare typed by random monkeys.
With fortune, more moves from southern latitudes will make their way into a new context, and drawings and songs will intervene more or less subtly.
In short, it's time to marshal a few great artists and provoke them into something juicy."