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Desmond Kelly

Born and trained in Zimbabwe, Desmond Kelly, Assistant Director, began his professional career with London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), becoming principal dancer at 21, before working with many international companies including New Zealand Ballet, The Royal Ballet and Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet.

He performed in Britain during the 1960s, and joined the Royal Ballet Companies in 1970, dancing the principal role in all the major classical repertoire and partnering many of the world's leading ballerinas including Margot Fonteyn, Antoinette Sibley, Merle Park, Natalia Makarova, Monica Mason (now Director of The Royal Ballet), Margaret Barbieri and Marion Tait (now BRB's Ballet Mistress). He is particularly noted for his interpretation of the Balanchine repertory, has created numerous roles for choreographers including Bintley, Carter, Corder, MacMillan, Seymour and Tetley, and continues to perform character roles with the Company.

Desmond has taught classical ballet to many international companies since 1985, becoming instrumental in the development of numerous dancers, particularly at BRB, where he was appointed Assistant Director in 1990.

As Assistant Director, he is a member of BRB's Senior Management Team and provides a communication and management link between the ballet staff and dancers, and the administration departments. He line-manages the Company's Ballet Staff, is responsible for the welfare of the dancers in liaison with the Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries, and teaches certain repertory to the Company, notably that of Balanchine and MacMillan.

Desmond was awarded an OBE in the 2005 New Year's Honours list, and was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Leicester University and the University of Birmingham in 2007. He directed BRB's artistic team for Ballet Changed My Life - Ballet Hoo!, the education project documented on Channel 4 during September and October 2006, for which he was presented with a special award at the Critics' Circle National Dance Awards in 2008. He is married to former dancer Denise le Comte and has two children and four grandchildren.

Last updated January 2008.


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