Artistic Director & Founders

Jennifer & John 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 assumed leadership of the demonstration and performance group in Palo Alto, which soon became The Red Thistle Dancers who celebrated their 40th year in 2017.   


Over the years, Jennifer and John proceeded to build a wonderful community of devoted dancers, friends, and supporters spanning more than four decades of Scottish Country and Highland Dance and music in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Jennifer Kelly

John Kelly