Since the inception of the Brisbane Performing Arts Challenge, Kelley Abbey has been its patron. Known for her support
of young talent in Australia, Kelley Abbey's presence at BPAC each year inspires, excites and challenges our participants
to be the best they can be and remember the joy in performing. We are very proud that she is our patron!
Kelley's message to all BPAC participants:
Welcome to the incredible dance event, ‘The Brisbane Performing Arts Challenge 2021!’ I understand what a challenging
year it was last year dealing with the effects of COVID. I’m sure you are all eager to strut your stuff on the stage again
whilst keeping safe and sanitised! It’s true that in global lockdown most of us turned to Art to cope. Reading, watching
movies, listening to music and dancing in our lounge rooms. I never underestimate the power of Art to heal. In fact,
one of the most healing things you can do in life is to dance! Dance equally uses both left and right hemispheres of the
brain. It is one of the few skills that does so. Get your ‘dance on’ and focus on just how much joy it gives you, and also
the audience watching. Thank you again to our sponsors for making this event possible and hope to see you there!
Feel the beat!
Director, Choreographer and Performer
For over three decades Kelley Abbey has performed, danced, choreographed and directed for theatre, film and television.
A leading lady in musicals like Sweet Charity and Fame – The Musical, Kelley has won as many hearts as awards. For Sweet Charity she received the Green Room, Variety Heart and MO Awards for Best Female Musical Theatre Performer. In Fame – The Musical, she both starred and choreographed, winning a MO Award for Best Female Performer/Choreographer in a Musical and the Green Room Award for Best Original Choreography.
Her choreography has seen her create for many television shows and specials, such as the Logies, MTV Awards, AFI awards. She was also the special guest judge and choreographed some memorable group routines for the Australian ‘So You Think You Can Dance. ‘This has led her to be invited as the only Australian choreographer to create group routines for the American ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ TV Series.
In 2008 she was the Australian judge on the NBC American series Superstars of Dance working alongside Nigel Lythgoe, Simon Fuller and Michael Flatley.
From 2002 to 2006 Kelley worked as the choreographer, lead performer and creative motion capture consultant on the GOLDEN GLOBE, BAFTA and OSCAR winning, feature film Happy Feet, for George Miller, Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow. Happy Feet was number one box office in Britain and America upon it’s release. Kelley was selected to be honored in the feature film category at the Los Angeles Choreography Media Honors for her work in Happy Feet.
She co-choreographed Hugh Jackman’s The Boy From OZ Australian Arena tour for producers Ben Gannon and Robert Fox in 2006. Kelley and co-choreographer/director Kenny Ortega won the Helpmann Award for best choreography in a musical for this production.
Kelley has also choreographed several other stage musicals including Footloose for Gordon Frost/SEL, for which she earned a Helpmann Award nomination, the Sydney Opera House concert production of Follies, and Fame – The Musical in Australia, Asia and South Africa. Whilst playing Rizzo in Grease – The Arena Spectacular in 1998 she was also Assistant Choreographer and Assistant Director. In 2005 Kelley choreographed a new arena production of Grease for Gordon Frost/SEL. She also choreographed a new production of Hedwig and The Angry Inch for Showtune productions, and Xanadu the Musical working alongside Tony Award Winning Broadway Director Christopher Ashley.
Other theatre credits as a performer include Dancin’ Man and Dynamite! with David Atkins, West Side Story for the Victoria State Opera and the role of Rizzo in the return Melbourne and Sydney seasons of Grease – The Arena Spectacular.
From 1991 to 1993 Kelley first came to public notice as Jo-Jo in the popular soap E-Street which aired on Network Ten Australia and Britain’s Sky network. She has also performed on many other television shows as an actor, dancer and singer. She sang at the 1997 Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and at the opening of the Olympic Stadium in Sydney.
Kelley is also one of Australia’s leading music video choreographers working with many pop artists and award-winning international acts. Her directorial debut in music video was nominated for Best Video at the Australian Music Awards.
Kelley staged and choreographed Human Nature performances on their international tours with Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Celine Dion. She has choreographed many Logies performances for Pop Idol’s as well as staging Ricky Martin’s Logies performance.
Kelley was also choreographer and staging director of The Main Event Arena concert starring John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John and Anthony Warlow‘
Kelley has finished choreographing, consulting and playing a role in an Australian feature film called “In Her Skin” starring Sam Neil, Guy Pearce and Miranda Otto.
She made her directorial stage debut (with a Helpmann nomination) on a new rebooted GFO version of Fame the musical, which she also choreographed. This show toured Australia in 2010 and won her another Helpmann award for best choreography.
In 2011, Kelley finished working on a new Australian musical film called Goddess, starring Ronan Keating and Magda Szubanski, and directed and choreographed Natalie Bassingthwaite’s single ‘All We Have.’
She was seen as the on-camera choreographer on ‘I Will Survive’ for Network Ten, and played an acting role on the ABC series Dance Academy. Kelley was also choreographing the Australain Opera’s Salome directed by Gale Edwards and choreographed the AO Opera of Carmen staged on Sydney Harbour. Kelley was the creative director on the 2014 series of Dancing with The Stars, whilst staging and choreographing the new stage musical of Miracle City at the Hayes Theatre, and the Sydney Opera House.
In 2014 she was also the associate director to Baz Luhrman on Strictly Ballroom the musical for its national tour.
In 2015 she was the artistic director of John Farnham and Olivia Newton- John in their ‘Two Strong Hearts’ national stadium tour.
In 2016, Kelley was the staging director for Tina Arena and the Veronica’s on the Aria awards, and some of their live stage and TV performances on The Voice. Kelley choreographed a brand new version of Carmen for The Australian Opera directed by John Bell at the Sydney Opera House. She also choreographed Funny Girl the musical for The Production Company, starring Caroline O’Connor.
In 2017 she has choreographed Cabaret the musical for Showtune productions, for which she won a Broadway World award, and choreographed Jesus Christ Superstar for The Production Company in Melbourne.
She choreographed the Sydney Festival Rembrandt Live at the Art Gallery of NSW directed by John Bell, and directed and choreographed a new show called YOU & ME starring musical theatre greats Michael Cormick and Rachael Beck. She also directed and choreographed some musical theatre concerts for Opera Australia in Tokyo.
Most recently she was the creative director on the rebooted Warner Bros. version of Dancing With The Stars in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Kelley enjoys lecturing and taking master classes all around Australia. She also runs a mentoring program and loves inspiring young performers to realise their full performing potential.
Her latest endeavour has been co-producing a book along with Louise Telford called ‘Light The Way’- inspiring stories of Australian Dancers and Choreographers. The book has been so successful that it has inspired a 3 day dance event called ‘The Light The Way Dance Convention’ to be held annually at Sydney’s Coliseum Theatre & West HQ from the 6-8th August.