Desmond Kelly (published 2013)

Dublin Core


Desmond Kelly (published 2013)


Kelly describes what first attracted him to dance and his primary influences and inspirations. He explains that his years as a dancers were ultimately leading him to his true passion; dance education. Being a teachers has kept him involved in ballet for almost a half century. Specifc ballets mentioned include The Prodigal Son.

Biographical Note:

Born in Zimbabwe in 1942, Kelly left his home country at the age of 16 when he won a Royal Academy of Dance scholarship to come to London. After studying under Ruth French, Kelly began his professional career with London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), becoming principal dancer at 21. He later worked 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 repetiore. He is particularly noted for his interpretation of the Ballets Russes repertory such Le Spectre de la Rose, Les Sylphides, and The Prodigal Son. Kelly was appointed Assistant Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1990 and continued there until his retirment in 2008 after which he joined Elmhurst School for Dance as Artistic Director. Kelly 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. After more than 50 years in the dance world, Kelly finally retired in 2012. He is married to former dancer Denise le Comte with whom he has two children.

Date Created

November 21, 2008

Is Part Of

Newman, B. (2013). Never Far from Dancing: Ballet Artists in New Roles. London: Routledge.


Interview recorded on MiniDisc by Barbara Newman

Rights Holder

Barbara Newman
Desmond Kelly

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Original Format


Digital Format


Digital Master


Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps/44.1 kHz


Barbara Newman


Desmond Kelly, 1942-


Birmingham, UK



“Desmond Kelly (published 2013),” Dance Dialogues: Interviews by Barbara Newman, 1979-Present, accessed June 28, 2022,

Output Formats