Karlies Kelley, originally from Panama, began her dance career as a Panamanian Folkloric dancer. She moved to the United States in 2004 and performed as a Latin dancer while earning her BFA in Dance with concentration in African Diasporic dances at the University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She specializes in Latin dance, yet has cross-trained in African, Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Theater, Music, Yoga, Pilates, Laban movement Analysis, The Alexander Technique, Gaga Technique and Aerial dance.

As director of Panadanza Dance Company she incorporates African Diasporic dances and music from the Caribbean, Central and South America, bringing together a captivating and exciting rhythmic fusion. Her most recent work, Belleza Cimarrona was brought to represent the University of Wisconsin at the American College Dance Festival in Iowa.

Karlies held the title for Chicago Samba Queen 2012 and often performs with Chicago Samba and Samba 1 Brazilian Dance Company throughout the midwest with Edilson Lima. In addition, she danced with the Ko-Thi Dance Company 2013-2014 and mentored for four years by Ferne Caulker-Bronson.

She develops/creates/designs/collaborates programs with Latino Arts, Danceworks, African American Children’s Theater, The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Milwaukee Public Theater, Arts at Large, Milwaukee Recreation, Real Time and Delaware House; Teaching and performing for a wide range of audience from Milwaukee Public Schools, Youth Leadership Programs, benefits, nursing homes and private celebrations.

Karlies’ classes and performances are energetic and fun, yet challenging and informational for every level. She teaches the history behind each dance and proper body mechanics in order to avoid injury and perform best of one’s ability.

“I love to dance because it is one of the purest forms of art; No materials needed, just ourselves moving through space and time, making or simulating sound, connecting with ourselves or others.” –Karlies Kelley