The new Broadway production of Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour marks dancer Reed Kelly’s fourth Broadway show. No stranger to the Lyric Theatre, he last flew around that stage in Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. He also took flight as a monkey in Broadway’s Wicked and danced in The Addams Family. In addition to performing, Reed continues to interact with a legion of reality show fans from his stint on CBS’s Survivor: San Juan Del Sur in 2014. A champion for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, he’s raised generous donations from fans through his active social media presence.
I reached out to Reed after catching his performance in the eye-popping spectacular by Cirque du Soleil. Read what he has to say about Paramour, training as an aerial artist, and super soapy showers.
Moment I look forward to every night in Paramour:
When the iris opens onstage to reveal our opening number. The music is in full swing, the set is gleaming, everyone is dressed to the nines, and we’re about to take our audience on a spectacular journey. It’s full of promise and excitement and is a thrilling moment night after night.
What I love about our diverse cast:
Everyone comes from such different walks of life and each has a very unique specialty. It’s incredible getting to learn and grow by sharing skills with one another and just simply being around artists who are truly at the very top of their game. Plus, I get a chance to practice my French, Spanish, Russian, and Polish on a daily basis!
Seeing myself on Paramour ads all over New York City:
What’s not to love? Paramour has such beautiful ad campaigns! It’s an honor to get to represent Cirque du Soleil and Paramour on buses, taxis, billboards, and commercials all over the city, not to mention the jumbotrons in Times Square.
Musicals that inspired me to make dance my profession:
All the old classic movies like “The Wizard of Oz”, “Singing In The Rain”, “Top Hat”, and especially “White Christmas” were hugely influential in inspiring me from a very early age.
Three things about training to be an aerial artist:
Practice, practice, practice. Oh, and persistence. (Ok, that’s four. #sorrynotsorry)
Some days won’t feel as good as others. Some days you may not be nailing something you were sailing through the day before, but these are the days that you actually learn the most. You figure out how to make things happen in potentially less than optimal conditions. All that matters is that you continue to try. (This is a lesson my coaches Kevin and Andrew Atherton continue to patiently beat into my head when I am being too hard on myself during training.)
The most surprising thing about being a cast member on the reality show Survivor: San Juan del Sur:
I’ve been surprised by how many fans from around the world have genuinely opened up about very personal and important moments in their lives that have been inspired or influenced by my time on Survivor.
I was seen as a strong physical and strategic competitor on my season who also happened to be gay. I’m grateful to CBS for not playing heavily into stereotypes in their editing process in terms of my story. It could have been easy to try to pigeonhole me as just a “musical theater gay” with no dimension. In fact, they were nominated for a GLAAD Award for their fair and accurate portrayal of the LGBT community on my season.
I’ve honestly had so many amazing interactions with fans, especially my FoRKs [fans who have named themselves Fans Of Reed Kelly’s] that it’s hard to pick just one.
I do have to say that I am still humbled to this day that anyone even cares about what I do or who I am, let alone go out of their way to do some of the most amazing things or thoughtful gestures that they have. Though over the years I have been able to work with my fan base to personally raise over $150,000 for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. If that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is.
Favorite thing to do after a show:
Shower. I love showers, especially after doing Survivor; I have a whole new appreciation for the blessing of being clean after a hot shower. I come off stage, strip down, and enjoy some relaxing soapy goodness post-show before anything else.
What growing up in a dance competition studio taught me:
It helped reinforce my parent’s teaching that if you want something, you have to put in the hard work and the effort to get it. Larkin Dance Studio (the studio I grew up in) refuses to settle for mediocrity. They encourage you to be disciplined, committed to your craft, and to always strive to be a better version of yourself daily. I’ve integrated these lessons now as strong, second nature principles to live by.
My advice for young dancers considering a professional career:
If you’re moving to New York City with a goal to be on Broadway you have to sing! Start today, don’t wait. Focus on it the same way you would focus on taking jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary and hip hop. It’s essential. I’ve known far too many incredible young dancers who moved to the city thinking that their dance talent would be enough, only to come to the realization that they were missing an important tool in their belt. The more well rounded you are as a performer with a wide array of skills, the more desirable you will be to those behind the table at castings.
You can catch Reed in Cirque du Soleil’s captivating production of Paramour at the Lyric Theatre. Follow him (@thereedkelly) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Snapchat.
All photographs courtesy of the artist.
About the Author
Bob Rizzo began The Dance Coach as a valuable resource for aspiring dancers, teachers and choreographers looking for professional feedback on technique, performance and choreography. And for those who aspire to a career in dance, The Dance Coach is a trusted advisor offering career coaching and advice based on more than 30 years of professional experience in the dance world! The Dance Coach Blog focuses on dance related topics and people working in the entertainment industry. It features a mix of interviews, tips for dancers, performance reviews, and training opportunities. Read Bob Rizzo’s full bio here.