top of page


Visiting Stage Combat Instructor

Associate Professor Colleen Kelly is chair of the Department of Drama at the University of Virginia and director of the M.F.A. Professional Actor Training Program. She holds an M.F.A. degree from Ohio University and M.A. and B.S. degrees from Eastern Michigan University. Colleen has taught at the University of Virginia, University of San Diego/Old Globe Theatres, headed the University of Alabama/Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s M.F.A. Professional Actor Training Program and served as director of training at the American Shakespeare Center. She is a founding board member and former president of the Association of Theatre Movement Educators, a former vice president of the Virginia Theatre Association and a former vice president of the Society of American Fight Directors. She is recipient of the ATME Lifetime Achievement Award, the SAFD President’s Award, and a Choreographic Achievement Award nomination from Choreographers’ Resource Center/L.A. Dance Magazine for her work on the film Sommersby.

Colleen, who is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association, has worked professionally as an actor, director, fight director, and dance choreographer. Her work has been seen at professional theatres such as the American Shakespeare Center, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center Theatre Company, Dallas Theatre Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Clarence Brown Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre and the Old Globe Theatres, where she contributed to productions such as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (nominated for ten Tony Awards) directed by Jack O’Brien and Resurrection Blues directed by Mark Lamos (with Arthur Miller in-residence). As an assistant fight director to David Leong, she contributed to productions directed by Michael Kahn at the Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington, DC) and JoAnne Akalaitis’ ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, featuring actors Val Kilmer and Jean Tripplehorn, at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre.

Film credits include dance choreography for Sommersby with Richard Gere and Jody Foster and Everybody’s All-American with Jessica Lang and Dennis Quaid, and fight direction for the nationally-aired PBS series Tell About the South. Publications include articles in Theatre Symposium and The Fight Master. For the U.Va. Department of Drama, Colleen has directed several productions including Chicago, 1940’s Radio Hour, The Imaginary Invalid, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and A Flea in Her Ear.

Colleen has been an invited master teacher and workshop presenter for projects supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Alabama Humanities Foundation and served on the State of Alabama’s First Lady’s Children’s Art Festival Advisory Board (appointed by Lori Siegelman, former Alabama First Lady). Colleen has presented lectures and demonstrations at the Folger Library (Washington, DC), the International Stage Combat Workshop (London) and the Theatre Library Association (symposium at Lincoln Center/New York Public Library for the Performing Arts). Grant awards include the UVa Fall 2012 Challenge for Newly Hybrid Technology-Enhanced Courses and a Teaching Tolerance Grant from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

bottom of page