HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
APRIL 8,2005 15
theater johnny hooks
Former Houstonian and gay dancer
Sean Kelly is back with the moves of
Twyla Tharp and the music of Billy Joel
Swingin' to Billy Joel
MANY PERFORMERS IN MUSICAL
theater are required to learn one or two
parts at best. However gay dancer and
former Houstonian Sean Kelly must
learn all the male parts as the dance captain/swing on the first national tour of
the Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp
Broadway musical 'Movin'Out'.
"It's funny, we have what we call 'swing
moments' in rehearsal, where suddenly
you find yourself on the wrong side of the
stage, going into a different role than
what you're rehearsing," he-says.
Sean Kelly was born in San Raphael,
in Marin County, California. There he
trained at the Marin Ballet, under the
direction of Maria Vegh. Though he
refuses to give his age, 'Are you kidding?" he laughs, he will admit to being
in his late 30's.
Isn't that a bit old to be performing in
a show that is nearly all dance? "Well, if
I was still in performing classical ballet,
then I would say yes," he says. "But this
show is contemporary in every way"
Sean Kelly lived in Houston from 1985
through 2000. "It was nice to have a steady
paycheck, and I loved living in Houston,"
he recalls. "The city really supports its arts
community, and that is so refreshing."
Kelly was a member of the Houston
Ballet and danced here for many seasons
as a Principal Dancer, eventually becoming Ballet Master. He danced all of the
company's full-length classics and many
contemporary works by such choreographers as Ben Stevenson, George
Balanchine, Glen Tetley, Christopher
Bruce, Paul Taylor, Jiri Kylian and
Stanton Welch, among others.
Kelly has been on the road for many
years now. He is single and doesn't even
have time for a pet. "I am just never home."
Previously he toured the US and
Japan as Dance Supervisor with the
musical 'Swing' and has been a guest
artist with a variety of companies
throughout the U.S. as well as abroad.
Recently he staged Ben Stevenson's
'Cleopatra' for both the Boston Ballet and
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
Kelly is also a choreographer having
created numerous works with the
ft MORE INFO
Broadway in Houston
Former Houstonian Sean Kelly is the dance captain/swing for the first national tour of 'Movin' Out.'
(Photo by Joan Marcus)
Houston Ballet as well as Diablo Ballet,
Lexington Ballet and Ballet Spartanburg.
He has been invited to teach at the
Houston Ballet Academy, the Beijing
Dance Academy, the High School for
Performing and Visual Artists and Tulsa
Ballet Theatre's summer program.
Not happy to rest on his laurels, Kelly
has participated in three international
ballet competitions and was a member of
the original Broadway cast of "Movin' Out,'
which won Tony awards in 2003 for Best
Choreography and Best Orchestrations.
THE SHOW'S STORY FOLLOWS FIVE
friends from their 1960's high school
graduation to their reunion some years
later. In between, everyone finds or loses
love, the men go to Vietnam (where one
perishes on the battlefield), and everyone
must readjust to life after the war.
With no traditional dialogue, the
story is told through more than two
dozen or so well-known Joel songs like
"New York State of Mind," "It's Still
Rock and Roll to Me," "Angry Young
Men," and "Uptown Girl," among others.
Tharp's delicious choreography tells
the rest of the story. Anexhilarating
band is led by Darren Holden, who sings
lead and plays piano.
Asked what he misses most about"
Houston, he says, "The people and my
friends. Even though the early '80s were a
tough time in Houston, I really liked it."
The last time Kelly was in town was a
sad occasion, the funeral of his friend
and local ballet star Mark Arvin.
This time, in addition to chowing down
on Texas barbeque, he says, "I also can't
wait to go to JR's and the Brazos River
Bottom! There is nothing like line dancing
with a cute cowboy"
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