From an authentic fascination with Andy Warhol and admitted obsessions with Buzzfeed, TV and social media springs an inexhaustible Raja Feather Kelly -- tackling today's pop culture fodder with gusto through the medium of dance theater. Both a wordsmith and a researcher of movement, Raja strives to reflect all the noise and color of his generation right back onto the stage, confident that art promotes empathy. As his multipart titles reflect, he is one to bite off as much inspiration as he can chew. Here, he shares how the high school dance team reeled him in, what he got from weekend forensic competitions and how that New York Times love quiz (36 Questions That Lead To Love) really didn't pan out for him.
Recipient of the 2016 Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography, Raja Feather Kelly was born in Fort Hood, Texas and is the first and only choreographer to dedicate the entirety of his company’s work to Andy Warhol. He is the creator of ANDY WARHOL’S 25 CATS NAME SAM; ANDY WARHOL’S DRELLA (I LOVE YOU FAYE DRISCOLL); ANDY WARHOL’S 15: COLOR ME, WARHOL; ANOTHER 37 REASONS TO CRY (ANOTHER WARHOLIAN PRODUCTION); ANDY WARHOL’S TROPICO; and many short works, all of which have been created and performed throughout various theatres in New York City. For over a decade, Kelly has worked throughout the United States and abroad (Austria, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, and France) in search of the connections between popular culture and humanity and their integration into experiential dance-theatre. Kelly currently choreographs, writes, and directs his own work as Artistic Director of the feath3r theory, a culture-driven dance-theatre company.
He is a two-time recipient of Jerome Foundation commissioning funds for emerging artists (Dixon Place 2015, Danspace Project 2016), Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant recipient (2013–2015 Paris + Lyon, France), 2016 Dancemapolitan Commissioned Choreographer, 2015 Dixon Place Dance Artist in Residence, LMCC Workspace Resident Recipient, and an Emerging Choreographer residency at Bates Dance Festival. He has been the Guest Choreographer in Residence at Princeton University, University of Maryland College Park, University of Florida, University of Utah, and Middlebury College; the Harkness Choreographer in Residence at Hunter College; 2009 and 2011 Dance Web Scholar (Vienna, Austria); and has received a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant. Kelly is a 2016 Gelsey Kirkland Academy Artist in Residence.
Kelly can be seen in the work of Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, Rebecca Lazier, and Christopher Williams. He has formerly been a company member with David Dorfman Dance, Zoe | Juniper, Racedance, and PearsonWidrig DanceTheater. Kelly collaborates with Tzveta Kassabova and Paul Matteson. He has had the pleasure of performing in the work of Colleen Thomas and Dancers, and Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion.
He received his BA in both Dance (with honors, concentration in Choreography and Performance) and English (with honors, concentration in Poetry) from Connecticut College.
Raja lives in Brooklyn, New York with loved ones and continues his quest for enlightenment through self-help books and memoirs.