DanceLife caught up with Kelley Abbey in Sydney at the media launch of FAME. Check out the interview above.
For over two decades Kelley Abbey has performed, danced and choreographed 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 this year has seen her create performances for the Logies, MTV Awards and Channel Seven’s top rating TV series Packed to the Rafters. She was also the special guest judge and choreographed memorable group routines for the Australian production of So You Think You Can Dance. This led her to be invited as the only Australian choreographer to create group routines for the US TV series of So You Think You Can Dance.
In 2008, she was the Australian judge on the US NBC 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. On its release, Happy Feet was No.1 in the box office in Britain and America. Kelley was honoured in the feature film category at the Los Angeles Choreography Media Honors for her work in Happy Feet.
In 2006, Kelley co-choreographed Hugh Jackman’s The Boy From Oz Australian Arena Tour for producers Ben Gannon and Robert Fox. Kelley and co-choreographer/director Kenny Ortega won the Helpmann Award for Best Choreography in a Musical for this production.
Kelley has choreographed many 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.
While 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 most recently choreographed a new production of Hedwig and The Angry Inch for Showtune Productions. 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 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 idols 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 completed choreographing, consulting and playing a role in a new Australian feature film called In Her Skin starring Sam Neil, Guy Pearce and Miranda Otto, to be released this year.