Kelly MacArthur


School Owner/Director/Choreographer/Main Instructor

Teaching Certifications & Organizations: MSDTA, SDNS, SDC, DANS, Chair GCHD Competition


Kelly MacArthur is a Champion Highland Dancer and veteran Step Dancer from Cape Breton, who has competed and performed all over the world for over 38 years, with nearly every musician and band that has come out of Nova Scotia. She was the Nova Scotia Dance Ambassador for tourism for 10 years, has danced in several commercials and television specials, and was also featured in the Barra MacNeil’s video, “My Heart’s in the Highlands”. In 2017, she was featured on “The Amazing Race Canada” as a judge of the dance challenge, and her premier dancers were featured dancing along and teaching contestants on the CTV Broadcast.

Kelly has been teaching Highland Dance and Cape Breton Step Dance for the past 33 years, including 22 years at her own Dance Studio in Sydney, the MacArthur School of Dance. The school also has a professional performance troupe called the ‘MacArthur Dancers’, which is under Kelly’s direction and choreography, and consists of top level dancers from all over Cape Breton Island. She has taught workshops all over Canada and the United States, including the College of Piping (PEI), the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts for 23 years (NS), Schoodic Festival of the Arts (Maine, USA), the Michigan Dance & Theatre Company (USA), the SDTA North American Scholarship Conference (Moncton, NB) and the Celtic Colours International Festival (NS) to name a few. 

 Kelly has won the Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canadian Highland Dance Championship titles repeatedly, as well as over 20 Runner-Up titles all over Canada. She has won outstanding student awards at her former dance school and the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts. Kelly was awarded, by the Governor of Maine, with an ‘Ambassador of Tourism & Culture’ Award for her work within the school systems from 1997-2004. She won the prestigious ‘Nova Scotia Woman in Business’ Award in the Arts & Culture field in 2006, and was nominated for 3 other Woman In Business awards locally and within the Province, in the Arts & Culture sector, over the past 10 years. Kelly has successfully competed and performed all over Canada, the United States and Europe. She continues to perform, both as professional soloist and with her Dance Company, at events all over the Canada – including all year long with “Spirit of the Fiddle” and the “Casino Cruise Ship Ceilidhs” in Sydney.

Kelly is an award winning choreographer in Highland, Step, Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern and Contemporary. Her choreography has won top awards all over Canada, with her soloists and group dancers winning scholarships and overall titles year round. In 2017, her choreography titled “Dileas” won 1st overall in the Canadian Choreography Group Challenge at the Canadian Highland Dance Championships in Charlottetown, PEI. In 2018, her choreography titled “Gaels of the Dark Sea” won 3rd overall at the Canadian Choreography Group Challenge in Calgary, Alberta. In 2019, her choreography titled “Fior Charaid” once again won 1st overall at the Canadian Choreography Group Challenge in Moncton, New Brunswick – and her Duo Choreography won 1st in the Duet Challenge at the same event.


Kelly’s Highland Dancers have won championship titles all over Canada & Scotland, including medals, trophies, Champion and runner-up titles at Nova Scotia Championships, Canadian Championships, Atlantic Canadian Championships, Commonwealth Championships (Dunblane, Scotland) and the Scottish Open Championships (Dunoon, Scotland). One of Kelly’s dancers qualified, in the top 20, for the Juvenile World Championships in 2019.


Her dancers perform over 100 shows each year, locally within their community, all over the Maritimes, and all over Canada. They have been fortunate to have danced with many outstanding musicians/tours, including: The Barra MacNeils Christmas Tour, Cape Breton Summertime Review, Island Girls, Kitchenfest, Acoustic Roots Festival, Cape Breton Fiddler’s Festival, Scottie’s Tournament of Hearts, Cancer Cares Benefit, Celtic Colours Internationals Festival, Girl’s Night Out, Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame Showcase, Canada 150 Metis Homecoming Festival in Alberta, MaryJane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac, Sprag Session, Coig, Rawlin’s Cross~ to name a few. In September of 2017, her dancers had a very cool television experience – they were featured dancing, as well as teaching contestants, to dance on ‘The Amazing Race Canada’, where Kelly was also invited to judge the contestants.


Kelly has her BA in Psychology and English from UCCB. She and her husband, award winning recording engineer ~ Michael Shepherd  (Lakewind Sound Studios) ~ reside in Sydney with their 15 year old daughter, Drea, and 9 year old son, Jera. Drea is competing and performing in Highland & Step Dance (as well as Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern and Hip Hop), singing Gaelic, and taking lessons in piano and fiddle. Drea is a very accomplished competitive and performance dancer, including having made the Nova Scotia Highland Dance Provincial Championships Team for the past 6 consecutive years. She has competed at the National Championships in British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, PEI, Calgary and New Brunswick as a member of the Nova Scotia Highland Dance Team. Drea was 6th overall in Canada in 2018 at the Canadian Championships in her category. She is following in her mother’s footsteps. Jera is an amazing piano player, singer and dancer, and he plays competitive hockey.


Kelly continues to promote the preservation of the culture of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and Scotland ~ through instruction and performance of music, dance and history~ hoping to keep it alive and thriving for many more generations to come.