Tags: Center for the Arts, Community Spotlight, Dancers Workshop, Don Kushner, Kate Kosharek, Ryan Kelley
At the Center for the Arts, we strive every day to make art and education accessible to our community. We know that preserving and promoting arts and education is only attainable through the efforts of many, and we would like to feature Ryan Kelley, a valley resident who is actively involved in the arts and the community. He is an inspiration for others to become involved as well.
It was a day like any other at the Center for the Arts: I was working at my desk in the Glenwood Lobby, when I heard the door to the stairwell open, followed by: "Now everyone say....hi Sara!" Then one by one, nearly twenty teenagers passed by my desk, greeting me individually. I laughed at all the attention, craning my neck to see who had spawned this event. I received my answer when I saw Ryan Kelley, one of the teachers for the "So You Think You Can Dance" kids' summer camp hosted by the Dancers Workshop.
I was not surprised that Ryan created the momentary distraction; for he is not only one of the dance teachers contracted by Dancers Workshop, Ryan is also a good friend of mine. We became friends quite some time ago because Ryan is a great person to know; truly genuine at heart, with a good sense of humor, and the only person I know who can have an actual debate with me over who was the more sinister vampire in Buffy: Angel or Spike? (I still maintain that it is, without a doubt, Spike.)
Ryan and I also share two big things in common: our love for the performing arts and we both spend a lot of time at the Center for the Arts. In addition to being a member of the staff at the Center for the Arts, I try to attend events held by the Center and its residents, whenever possible. Ryan's involvement at the Center, however, is more complex than mine in that he does not maintain full time employment at the Center. He does, however, work various projects with many of the resident organizations at the Center and therefore can be found here on most any day, in one room or another.
Ryan at the Finale Performance for the
Hip Hop w/ Ryan Kelley Summer Camp
One of the on-going projects Ryan contributes to is his work with Dancers Workshop as a dance instructor. He is currently teaching his second kids summer camp for the organization, which will be followed next week when he assists Kate Kosharek in instructing the "Michael Jackson" summer dance camp. Ryan was the headlining instructor for the overwhelming popular camp, "Hip Hop w/ Ryan Kelley" held earlier this summer. It was so popular that Dancers Workshop has added a second "Hip Hop w/ Ryan Kelley" dance camp to their pre-planned schedule.
It's not all about the spotlight though, as Ryan also works the production crew in the Center Theater, under the direction of our very own Production Manager Extraordinaire, Don Kushner. Kushner stated that Ryan was instrumental in this past weekend's amazing production of the New York City Ballet, presented by Dancers Workshop. Although Ryan admitted that being backstage is tough work, he was not deterred; returning to work behind the scenes for tonight's sold out performance featuring Amos Lee with Mutlu.
Production Manager Don Kushner(l) and Ryan Kelley(r)
setting up the stage for Amos Lee
No stranger to the stage, Ryan has performed in multiple productions in the valley, some in our very own Center Theater. If you attended the 2010 Rocky Horror Picture Show performance at the Pink Garter, you will remember Ryan, as he played the role of the male lead, Brad. He keeps a range in the types of roles he selects. My daughter still refers to Ryan as "your friend who dressed up like a girl," in reference to his portrayal of Mildred, a female lead in "Crossing the Bar," one portion of Jackson Community Theater's November 2010 Production "Night of One Acts." Ryan executed the role to the greatest extent, not only did he perform donning a wig, dress, and heels; he even shaved his legs just for the performance!
In that same night, Ryan also had a starring role in another play, "Good Honest Food", with fellow local actors Patrick Nolan, James Brennan, and Patty McDonald. "Good Honest Food" received such high praise, the cast was asked to perform it once again at the American Association of Community Theater's 2011 Festival, representing Wyoming in the prestigious competition.
James Brennan(l) and Ryan Kelley(r) in "Good Honest Food"
You may be wondering now why we have been talking so much about Ryan Kelley. Pure and simple, the reason is this: Ryan Kelley is the typical Valley resident, but he goes above and beyond his personal and civic responsibilities to support the arts; involving himself in numerous organizations and projects, and working to preserve the art form through his teaching.
When I asked Ryan why he was so dedicated and involved in the arts, he responded:
"I come from a long family history of performers, and they instilled in me a great sense of the importance of community. The performing arts is the one place I have always felt at home."
For that, we recognize Ryan as a valuable and outstanding supporter for the arts. We hope that by reading about Ryan and his contributions, he will inspire others of this community to become actively involved in supporting and preserving the arts.