Artistic Director & Founder Jennifer Kelly

Directorship: 1973-2018

Artistic Director Jennifer Kelly grew up in southern England where she began dancing at a very early age. With a foundation in ballet, her first Scottish dance teacher was Innes Russell, who was a member of the International Performing Team and a member of the famous 51st Highland Division. 


In 1966, Jennifer and her husband John, also a dancer, moved to California and started the San Jose Scottish Country Dance class, which continues today.  After the departure of C. Stewart Smith, Jennifer took over the leadership of demonstration and performance group in Palo Alto, which soon became The Red Thistle Dancers who celebrated their 40th year in 20017.   


In 2015, Jennifer and John Kelly were specially awarded the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society's "Scroll of Honour," the society's highest accolade, as recognition for their tremendous contribution to Scottish Dance.

Jennifer Kelly

Artistic Director

Jennifer is a prolific dance devisor, and has created many original dances for both performance special occasions.   Some of her dances are catalogued in "The Alamo Collection," (Jennifer Kelly and Eugene Bissell) with new collections soon to be released.


Jennifer has been a guest teacher at numerous workshops and master class seminars, both at international folk and Scottish dance workshops, particularly along the West Coast. She enjoys working with folk dancers and is a popular Scottish dancing teacher at California's Stockton Folk Dance Camp. She was one of the distinguished complement of teachers assembled for the 60th Anniversary Camp.


Along with the production of the Scottish Country Dance Instructional Video series, she and husband John with Red Thistle Music, have produced a music compilation, "The March Hare - Twelve Scottish Country Dances in Strict Tempo."


An avid gardener and traveler, she and her husband John are the authors of Wildflower Walks in the Sibillini, written in both English and Italian, with over 200 photographs of the spectacular countryside and flowers of the Sibillini Mountains, in the province of Le Marche, Italy.


Jennifer and John have a son, Andrew, and a daughter, Fiona, particularly known to the world of Highland Dance through her namesake dance, "Fiona's Birthday," devised especially for John and Jennifer by C. Stewart Smith. Through Fiona,  John and Jennifer are now the proud grandparents of two lovely granddaughters, Tegan and Whitley, along with a grandson, Liam Joshua, son to Andrew.


The Red  Thistle Dancers

- Scottish Dancing & Music  -