From early beginnings with live performance drawing in the mega clubs of Tokyo, to her trademark continuous line, Martin's diverse work navigates many worlds.


Kites, Shantell Martin's choreographic debut is a celebration and exploration of memory, movement, creativity, and collaboration.


Boston Ballet presented ChoreograpHER, an innovative female-led program celebrating women across creative fields including choreography, music, design, and visual art. For this series, world-renowned multidisciplinary and visual artist Shantell Martin premiered her first choreographed work KITES. 


In all her creative ventures, Shantell follows her Line, the DNA of her drawings, and believes that drawing is a fundamental creative outlet and tool that everyone has access to. KITES follows the path of a Line as seen through movement. Inspired by the idea that our lives are like kites that travel with a string tracing together memory and weaving the past and the future to the present.


“Kites is a celebration and exploration of memory, movement, creativity, and collaboration. It is a journey from dark to light, from unknowing to knowing, from the ground to the air. It draws from the object that is the Kite, both metaphorically and physically speaking (getting us from the ground to the air and back again).” - Shantell Martin


In this contemporary and bold approach to ballet, Martin collaboratively translated the Line into movement through a variety of different creative exercises. Ranging from meditations on identity, independent of labels and the roles one plays in life, to movement work that explored how words and emotions inspire movement in the body and a collection of conversations that dove into how our own ideas of time and space collaborate to create a truly experiential lived-in reality and how to translate that into a physical representation of one’s own Line.


With a commitment to respecting each dancer’s artistic and intuitive voice, KITES represents the entire company of dancers, each with unique talents, voices, and life experience and how they come together - creating new landscapes of time, emotion and Lines. By translating the individual and collective Line into movements, KITES explores the vulnerability of bodies in Time and space and celebrates living a life that is both grounded by the past but liberated, floating and flying into the future. 


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The May Room

Music: Tromba Lontana and Short Ride in a Fast Machine by John Adams*
Choreographer: Shantell Martin
Scenic Design: Shantell Martin

Lighting Design: Brandon Stirling Baker
Costume Design: Shantell Martin in collaboration with Lisa Dezmelyk


*by arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes

Opening night casting: Isaac Akiba, Ji Young Chae, Ekaterine Chubinidze, Tyson Clark, Madysen Felber, Sage Humphries, SeokJoo Kim, John Lam, Abigail Merlis, Chisako Oga, Nations Wilkes-Davis.


Performance photography by Rosalie O’Connor Photography courtesy of Boston Ballet.