Kelly Todd is a native of Houston, TX, where she began her training in classical ballet at Festival Ballet and contemporary dance at Metropolitan Dance Company. Continuing her education, she received a BFA in Modern Dance from Texas Christian University and a Double Minor in Biology and Environmental Science.
Professionally, she has had the opportunity to work with artist Susan Jaffe, Jon Ole Olstad, Ben Stevenson, Pavel Zustiak and Doug Varone. She has been featured in contemporary dance works by Robert Battle, Doris Humphrey, Kuperman Brothers, Sharon Eyal, zoe|juniper, Johannes Weiland, and Punchdrunk. She currently resides in NYC and performs with the critically-acclaimed, award winning off-broadway show Sleep No More. Along with performing, she also teaches Mindfulness and Sex Ed at Waterfront Montessori in Jersey City, NJ.
Kelly’s choreography has been showcased in Texas, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, New Mexico, and NYC. She has been commissioned by renowned architect, Steven Holl and has taken part in residencies through Arts on Site and Keshet Makers Space. In February 2018, her film, Minnewaska premiered at Arts on Site NY to promote the four film series Under Review which highlights the threatened American National Monuments under review by President Trump for oil and gas production.
Kelly has been awarded the LEIMAY Fellowship in Brooklyn, NY which provides fully subsidized rehearsal space along with a public New York Garden Showing for the creation of Under Review: Katahdin and Riding Red. To read her interview and learn more about the fellowship click here
Where do we find inspiration? Throughout my career, I’ve been trained in many techniques, from Lecoq, to Viewpoints, endless styles of dance from classical Ballet to Flamenco, Ferus Animi (exploration of evolutionary physiology) and even Ayurvedic Science. However, these are just tools to develop work after the light bulb goes on.
For me, my most potent source of inspiration is nature. As a lifelong outdoor enthusiast, a world traveler, and an artist with supporting degrees in Biology and Environmental Science, I’ve always looked towards the natural world for inspiration. Whether capturing it on film, or creating live site-specific performance, nature is the place I go to jumpstart an idea or when I’m stuck in a process. I find myself searching for idiosyncratic relationships between nature and humans being. For example, I am drawn to how vines and roots take over architecture, cracking the paint off the exterior and softening the floor with soil. Or I’ll look back at scientific research and how it can be translated into movement by showing how canyons are created through natural weathering of wind, water, and snow and how trees communicate through their underground root system to share nutrients and send messages of danger or pollination.
I use film, dance and character driven story-telling to bring an imaginative style to showcasing nature. I research how to put the story and the beauty of wild lands at the forefront of art while using dance and film as a catalyst to enhance rather than distract from the landscape. The textures of movement and the human body can parallel or contrast the textures of the environment in a way that highlights protected lands. It is a constant game of give and take, and finding the delicate balance of nature, performance, and activism.
While my work points to a multitude of issues, be they social, environmental, or political, I have found myself focusing on how I, as an artist, can support the conservation of our country’s national parks. My most current project, Under Review, uses an artistic lens to champion the efforts of national park conservation, in hope to spark conversations on how we can protect these irreplaceable, beautiful and truly wild lands.