Kelly MacArthur

Highland Dance

Kelly is a Champion Highland Dancer, a veteran Step Dancer, and a seasoned stage performer from the beautiful island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She has competed, performed and taught all over Canada, the United States and Europe over the past 40+ years. Kelly was a student of Karenanne (Campbell) Peck her entire competitive career, during which she won the Nova Scotia Championship and Atlantic Canadian Championship titles repeatedly, representing NS at the Canadian Championships for 5 consecutive years. She also won Canadian Choreography titles as a member of Campbell’s Dance Troupe, Damhsa Breacan. Kelly taught for 12 years with Karenanne, and 25 years at the Gaelic College consecutively. She has taught Highland and Step Dance workshops all over North America, and has taught Highland, Step Dance and Hip Hop in nearly every school on the island. 

Kelly has been the Owner/Director of the MacArthur School of Dance for 25 years. She teaches Highland Dance, Cape Breton Step Dance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical and Contemporary. As soloists, Kelly’s dancers have won titles provincially, nationally and internationally – including at Nova Scotia Championships, Canadian Championships, Scottish Championships, Commonwealth Championships and have also Qualified for Worlds. 

Kelly has been the Director/Choreographer of the MacArthur Dancers for 25 years. This professional performance troupe has graced hundreds of stages each year, all over the Maritimes – as well as all over other parts of Canada, the US and Scotland – on professional tours, at local community festivals, and at charity events. They have won the Canadian Choreography Challenge in 2017 and 2019, as well as many other awards. Members of the troupe/Kelly have won choreography awards at Stage Competitions all over the Maritimes. The troupe has had the honour of dancing live with nearly every amazing Cape Breton and Maritime musician/band throughout each year. A few touring highlights include: Barra MacNeil’s Christmas Tour, Cape Breton Summertime Revue Tour, Island Girls Tour, Alberta Métis Homecoming Festival, Celtic Colours International Festival, NS Music Hall of Fame Gala, Small Halls Festival in PEI, and the Crieff Games VIP Lounge in Scotland. Members of the MacArthur Dancers have danced in Tattoos in Scotland, Switzerland, Russia, Ireland and Germany. One of the coolest gigs they have ever performed, was being showcased on The Amazing Race Canada: Season 4 – teaching the competitors to Highland Dance and performing with the contestants – with Kelly judging.

Kelly has won several awards in her community and abroad, including the Nova Scotia Women In Business Award and the State of Maine Lieutenant Governor’s Award: Ambassador of Cape Breton Step Dance within the school system. She lives in Sydney, Nova Scotia, with her family. Her husband, Michael Shepherd, is the award winning Recording Engineer at Lakewind Sound Studios, and both her children, Drea and Jera, are fully immersed in the Scottish culture of Cape Breton. She runs her Dance Studio full time in Sydney, as well as dancing professionally full time with Spirit of the Fiddle and The Casino Nova Scotia Cruise Ship Ceilidh Series. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from UCCB, is a member of the the SDTA, SDNS and DANS. Kelly believes strongly in the promotion, preservation and sharing of Scottish and Cape Breton culture – through education and performance – for generations to come. She is thrilled to be be back teaching at the Gaelic College, her second home for 25 years. 


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