MOVING PEOPLE: Raja Feather Kelly on "Dog Day Afternoon," His Greatest Challenge, and A Signature Item of Apparel

Raja Feather  Kelly
Raja Feather  Kelly

Raja Feather Kelly


Choreographer/Director Raja Feather Kelly is the artistic director of New Brooklyn Theatre. In 2009 he founded the dance-theatre-media company the feath3r theory. The two companies merged in 2018. Raja has been awarded a Breakout Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (2018), Dance Magazine’s inaugural Harkness Promise Award (2018), the Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography (2016), and, twice, the Princess Grace Award (2017, 2018). He was born in Fort Hood, Texas and holds a B.A. in Dance and English from Connecticut College.


Raja has been awarded a New York Dance Performance “Bessie” Award, a Bessie Schonberg Fellowship at The Yard, a DanceWEB Scholarship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship, a HERE Arts Fellowship, 2018 Creator-in-Residence at Kickstarter, and a Choreography Fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU.


Over the past decade he has created thirteen evening-length premieres and six short-format works. Professionally, Raja has performed with Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, Keely Garfield, Kota Yamazaki, David Dorfman Dance, Kyle Abraham|, Christopher Williams Dance, and zoe | juniper. He has also managed a number of dance companies: Race Dance, Kyle Abraham/Abraham. In. Motion, zoe | juniper, and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group.

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Published on December 5, 2019
Photos courtesy of the artist


My earliest memory of dancing is:

I have this baby picture of me dancing, and I can’t remember exactly why or what I was dancing to, but I love that I can speculate that I was super young and already dancing. And classy. After that, my sisters and I would dance on our front porch to TLC. It was perfection.


I knew that I was a dancer when _____________.

I saw Bob Fosse’s "Steam Heat" being performed by three high school students when I was in middle school.


An event (dance-related or not) that transformed me was _____________.

being asked to perform in a professional regional production of West Side Story at the Bucks County Play House after being awarded Best Actor during one of their high school play competitions.


One of the projects I’ve most enjoyed was _____________ because_____________.

making my first evening length show called DRELLA at The Invisible Dog 

I didn’t care what anyone thought; I just knew I had to make something and I only knew how to tell the truth about my art.


A perfect day includes _____________.

running in the morning, really good coffee, fun rehearsal with a great lunch date, and ending the night by going to the movies with my husband.


I question _____________.



I would like to learn how to _____________.

be an acrobat


If I could switch careers I would be a _____________.

Marketing Executive, an Elite Personal Assistant, or an event planner.


One of my greatest challenges has been _________.

taking time off


I am really looking forward to _____________.

having children


If I’d been born during the peak of pop art and Andy Warhol invited me to take residence in The Factory, I would _____________.

have said yes


My signature item of apparel is ____________.

a beanie or a snap back with one of my favorite artist’s names on it.


My favorite drag artist is _____________.


The performance space(s) where I feel most at home is _____________.

The Invisible Dog


My diet largely subsists of _____________.

meat and Häagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream


My liquid diet is primarily _____________.

coffee, seltzer water, and gin (not in the same glass)


A phrase or line I overuse is, _____________.

“Why am I being tested?”


Love is, to me, _____________.

a meditation


My favorite scene in my remake of "Dog Day Afternoon" is when _____________.

we reenact the original version of "Dog Day Afternoon" in 2 minutes.


My life now can best be described as ____________.

rolling a boulder 10x my size uphill

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