Choreographer/Director Raja Feather Kelly is the artistic director of the feath3r theory, the dance-theatre-media company that he founded in 2009. Raja is a Creative Associate at The Juilliard School, and has been awarded a Creative Capital Award (2019), a National Dance Project Production Grant (2019), a Breakout Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (2018), Dance Magazine’s inaugural Harkness Promise Award (2018), the Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography (2016), and is a three-time Princess Grace Award winner (2017, 2018, 2019) and two-time Lucille Lortel Award nominee (2019, 2020). In 2020 he was an Obie Award winner and Outer Critics Circle Award honoree for choreography for the Pulitzer-winning musical A Strange Loop. He was born in Fort Hood, Texas and holds a B.A. in Dance and English from Connecticut College.
Raja has been named as the 2019–2020 Randjelović/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist at New York Live Arts and is an inaugural Jerome Hill Artist Fellow. Raja has also been awarded a New York Dance Performance Bessie Award, a Bessie Schonberg Fellowship at The Yard, a DanceWEB Scholarship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship, a HERE Arts Fellowship, 2018 Creator-in-Residence at Kickstarter, and a Choreography Fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU. He has been granted a 2019–2021 National Dance Project Production Grant and was featured on the cover of the February 2020 issue of Dance Magazine.
Over the past decade he has created fifteen evening-length works with his company the feath3r theory to critical acclaim. Most recently, UGLY (Black Queer Zoo) at The Bushwick Starr, and We May Never Dance Again® at The Invisible Dog in Brooklyn. Professionally, Raja has performed with Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, David Dorfman Dance, Kyle Abraham|Abraham.In.Motion, and zoe | juniper. He has also managed a number of dance companies: Race Dance, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, zoe | juniper, and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group.
In 2020, Kelly made his directorial debut at New York City’s Second Stage Theatre with We’re Gonna Die. Since 2016, Raja has choreographed extensively for Off-Broadway theatre in New York City, most notably for Signature Theatre, Soho Rep, New York Theatre Workshop, and Playwrights Horizons. Kelly is the 2019 SDCF Joe A. Callaway Award finalist for outstanding choreography of A Strange Loop (Playwrights Horizons and winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) and Fairview (Soho Rep, Berkeley Rep, TFANA and winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama). Frequent collaborators include: Lileana Blain-Cruz, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Sarah Benson, and Lila Neugebauer. Other theatre credits include choreography for Skittles Commercial: The Musical (Town Hall), The Chronicles of Cardigan and Khente (SohoRep), Everyday Afroplay (JACK), GURLS (Princeton University, Yale Repertory Theatre), Electric Lucifer (The Kitchen), Lempicka (Williamstown Theatre Festival), The House That Will Not Stand (New York Theatre Workshop), Fireflies (Atlantic Theatre Company), If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons, nominated for the 2019 Lucille Lortel Award and the 2019 Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Choreography), The Good Swimmer (BAM), and Faust (Opera Omaha).