Raja Feather Kelly's Choreography includes Another Fucking Warhol Production (The Kitchen), Andy Warhol's Bleu Movie (BAM Fisher), Andy Warhol's TROPICO (Danspace Project), Andy Warhol's DRELLA, I Love You Faye Driscoll (The invisible Dog), and Andy Warhol's 15: Color Me, Warhol; (Dixon Place). Off-Broadway credits include choreography for Brenden Jacobs-Jenkins' EVERYBODY directed by Lila Neugabauer (Signature Theater), Susan-Lori Parks' The Death of The Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World directed by Lilieana Blain-Cruz (Signature Theater, Nominated for 2017 Lucielle Lortel Award), Funnyhouse of a Negro; written by Adrienne Kennedy directed by Lila Neugebauer (Signature Theater, Nominated for 2017 Lucielle Lortel Award), Daaimah Mubashshir 's EVERYDAY AFROPLAY(JACK) and Richard Allen and Taran Gray's FREEDOM RIDERS: THE CIVIL RIGHTS MUSICAL (Acorn Theatre) Directed by Whitney White.
Raja was born in Fort Hood, Texas, and is the first and only choreographer to dedicate the entirety of his company's work to Andy Warhol and the development of popular culture over the last thirty years. Kelly can be seen in the work of Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, Keely Garfield and Kota Yamazaki. He has formerly been a company member with David Dorfman Dance, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Christopher Williams Dance, Zoe | Juniper, Colleen Thomas and Dancers.
Honors include a 2018-19 Carthorse Fellowship at the Buran Theatre, a 2017 Princess Grace Award for a Fellowship in Choreography, a 2017 Bessie Schoenberg Fellow at the Yard on Martha's Vineyard, the 2016 Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography, a 2016 NYFA Choreography Fellow, a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, a 2016 Dancemapolitan Commissioned Choreographer, a 2015 Dixon Place Dance Artist in Residence, a LMCC Workspace Residency Recipient. He has been the Guest ChoreographerBates Dace Festival, Princeton University, University of Maryland College Park, University of Florida, University of Utah, and Middlebury College; the Harkness Choreographer in Residence at Hunter College; a 2009 Dance Web Scholar; Has received 2 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants. He received his BA in both Dance (with honors, concentration in Choreography and Performance) and English (with honors, concentration in Poetry) from Connecticut College.
A little over a year ago, I wrote an op-ed for Dance Magazine about the grueling, oppressive grant cycle. It was crying into my pillow, really. I was complaining and desperate to share my story. I was fed up with 10 years of applying for grants and having never received one for the research or development of my work. I was tired of the copy-and-paste rejection letters, the lack of feedback, and what seems to be a biased, inconsistent system.
I couldn't stand that I was made to feel as if I had to ask for permission to be an artist.
My life has five seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall and rejection. During the season of rejection, you can probably find me in one of the following places: lying in bed my sending 'F them, why not me' texts to my closest friends; emailing very salty 'why did you reject me, and can I puh-lease get some feedback' emails; or pacing my apartment, cleaning, trying to rationalize to myself why I'm just not good enough, yet.
I'm talking about the "Grant Cycle" or what is known among my peers and colleagues as "The Lottery." It's a grueling, never-ending process of trying to make three-dimensional art fit into a two-dimensional surface that can only hold the CliffsNotes version. It's meant to appeal to a group of discerning, qualified and unbiased people who are asked to do the civic duty of deciding where coveted space, time and money goes. The same space, time and money they too want and need.