Kelly Owner / Director

Owner/Director: MacArthur School of Dance
Director/Choreographer: MacArthur Dancers
Principal Dancer: Spirit of the Fiddle

Kelly is a Champion Highland Dancer and seasoned Step Dancer from the beautiful island of Cape Breton. She has competed, performed and taught all over Canada, the United States and Europe. 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 numerous times. She also won the Canadian Choreography titles as a member of Damhsa Breacan Dance Troupe. 

For 12 years, Kelly taught with Karenanne at the Campbell School of Dance in Sydney Mines, as well as over 30 years (and counting) at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts in St. Ann’s, NS – where she will also be teaching for a week this summer. After travelling, she moved back home to Sydney in 1996, and opened her own Studio in downtown Sydney, the MacArthur School of Dance. She has taught workshops in Studios all over Scotland, Canada and the United States, as well as at such festivals as: Rejigged, Celtic Colours International Festival, Schoodic Festival of the Arts, the College of Piping, Acoustic Roots Festival, and will add Rollo Bay Festival to this list in July.

Several forms of dance have been taught at the Studio, including: 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: Nova Scotia Champion, Atlantic Canadian Champion, Canadian Champion, Commonwealth Champion & World Champion. She is currently the teacher of the 2023 Junior World Champion, Olivia Burke. 

Kelly performs professionally as a member of Spirit of the Fiddle. She performs with a diverse group of top Cape Breton musicians, performing over 100 shows each year for the Cruise Ships, as well as at the Louisbourg Playhouse Series throughout the summer. 

Since 1996, Kelly has been the Director/Choreographer of the school’s professional performance troupe, the MacArthur Dancers. Members of the troupe have performed in festivals, concerts, tattoos, galas, and charity events all over Canada, the US, Scotland, Switzerland, Russia, and Ireland. They have been fortunate to have graced stages with nearly every incredible musician that has come out of Cape Breton, such as: Colin Grant, MaryJane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac, Sprag Session, Coig, Slainte Mhath, Aaron Lewis & Kimberley Fraser, Jimmy Rankin, Heather Rankin, the Beaton Sisters, the CB House Band, Howie MacDonald, Brenda Stubbert, Beolach – to name a few. The MacArthur Dancers have spent years touring across the Maritime Provinces with such incredible productions as: The Barra MacNeils Christmas Tour, The Cape Breton Summertime Review Tour, Island Girls Tour. In 2017, they had an amazing experience performing on The Amazing Race Canada – with Kelly as a judge to the contestants. The senior troupe had an incredible opportunity to perform at Massey Hall in Toronto with the Barra MacNeils Christmas Tour this past December of 2023. Amazing! The troupe has also had an extremely successful competitive career, winning first overall at the Canadian Choreography Challenge several times – with members winning solos, duos and group events all over the country. The MacArthur Dancers are best known for their creative & stage appealing original & modern choreographies.    

Kelly is a member of the SDTA, SDNS, SDC, DANS. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from UCCB, and is married to award winning Studio Recording Engineer, Michael “Sheppy” Shepherd. The couple lives in Sydney with their children Drea & Jera – both of whom study traditional music and dance. They live a life immersed in music and dance. Kelly strongly promotes the culture of Cape Breton, as well as the importance of sharing these unique traditions for generations to follow. She and her dancers contribute hundreds of volunteer hours each year to local charity and fundraising events.  

Kelly teaches full time at the main Studio in North Sydney, as well as at our three other locations in Sydney, Baddeck and Glace Bay.

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