“Wait, She Doesn’t Just Dance?”

This may very much come as a shock to a lot of people, so some of you may want to sit down…
While I have spent the better part of my life building my career as a dance teacher/coach and choreographer, I must admit:

There was a time I was living a double life.

Sounds mysterious, doesn’t it?
I’ll give you the short version:

– I graduated from The University of Central Oklahoma. Go Bronchos!
– As many a gal with a dream of being on Broadway does, I moved to New York City.
– Upon arrival, I faced the hard facts I am but a mere 5’2 with an “ok at best, on a good day, in the shower” singing voice, so maybe my name wasn’t meant to be in lights of the big city, after all.
– I moved to St. Louis, MO to coach the Starry Knights Dance Team at my alma mater: St. Francis Borgia High School.
– Because one with a low key shoe addiction cannot 100% survive on a catholic high school coaching salary, and I had not yet really started teaching at a dance studio, I begrudgingly had to figure out the “Adult Income” of it all.
– A fabulous, incredible mentor introduced me to the world of Multi-Family Housing Management and Real Estate Investment.

Wait, what even is that?

A whole new world was opened to me.
At first, I was very reluctant to this weird way of life.
“What is a tax credit?”
“Why do I have business cards?”
“Why is everyone wearing real pants?”

I felt like a fraud and I clung to my dance life with an iron clad grip.

But then, PLOT TWIST:
I learned wildly valuable skills and built an ENTIRELY different kind of resume which included job titles like:

– Marketing and Leasing Specialist
– New Hire Training and Events Coordinator
– Leasing Coordinator

And here is the craziest part:
I actually really loved it.

I mean, at the time I didn’t think it was EXACTLY my passion, but I would be lying to myself and everyone else if I didn’t come clean about fleeting thoughts of maybe giving up the dance dream, every once in a while.

But, alas, for me, I’m the type of person who just can’t shake a passion.

My choreography career took off and I walked away from my double life to give it my full focus. I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities and have been so inspired by all of the people I’ve worked with and the places I’ve traveled.

I will never be able to kick that passion and give up dance… this I know…. HOWEVER….

I really have never been able to totally shake the wonderful experience I found in my double life. Buzzwords like: Employee Motivation, Customer Service and Corporate Style Team Building really got in my blood and I found myself missing business cards and actually sitting down for lunch.

As living a double life is exhausting, I needed to figure out how to marry the two worlds into one.

So I asked myself:
“How can I take the fundamentals I love so much about both aspects of my life and shape the language to help teach, motivate and inspire those who may not be used to a life of 5-6-7-8 while perhaps still reaching those who aren’t totally familiar with always wearing “real” pants?”

And I think I figured it out.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present:

The KDs Collaborative
– Motivational Speaking
– Choreography
– Corporate and Athletic Team Building


Something you should know is that my years spent as a dancer has left me uncomfortable with counting past 8.

Sure, I can, I just prefer not to.

That said, The KDs Collaborative works in sets of 4s and 8s.

Need to call people to attention? 1-2-3-4

Counting down to snap a picture? 5-6-7-8

It is a non negotiable for the sake of safety and mental health.

The second non negotiable of The KDs Collaborative is an “Attitude of Gratitude”.

People, places, and external opportunities are all a piece of the puzzle to individual or team success stories and should be recognized and celebrated.

I developed the concept of #ThankFOUR because it is important to me to acknowledge and be thankful for various aspects of my life every day. In the morning, following like 8 cups of coffee, I list out four things I am thankful for THAT day.

No matter the complexity, the value is in the acknowledgement of what is positively impacting how you choreograph your journey.

I challenge you, for one week, to try something that looks like this:
“KellyD’s #ThankFOUR, February 3, 2020”
1. Family/Friends
2. Personal health
3. The concept of “TEAM”
4. Opportunities of optimism

At the end of the week, take a moment to look back and reflect on all of the things that contributed to your daily #ThankFOUR.
Read it several times.
Maybe 8 times.
How do you feel?

Do you feel compelled to reach out to the people you cherish and let them know what they mean to you?
Do you feel inspired to work harder to continue to nurture the components of your day that make you so happy?

Whatever the case may be, I promise you this:
There is power in the effort to see beyond yourself.
It can be the most rewarding thing you do everyday.
It takes very little time and very little effort.

So, what are your #ThankFOUR today?

“But Seriously, What’s Up With That Hat?”

While boarding a recent flight, a TSA agent looked me dead in the eyes and said:
“Miss, before you walk through the detector, I am going to need you to remove your hat and PLACE IT IN THE TRASH CAN. Thanks.”

Aggressive? – Yes.

Out of the norm? – No.

(Happy he chose to refer to me as “Miss” – ABSOLUTELY!!!)

While I can totally get behind “wearing real pants” and a fierce business, professional blowout, my day to day “Kelly D Aesthetic” truly revolves around a black and white New York Yankee’s hat. So much so, I have had many a dear friend find me almost unrecognizable without my favorite accessory.

Back story:
I bought my first Yankee hat while I was living in New York circa 2004. While I am a born and raised STL Cardinal fan and it felt almost blasphemous to purchase such a bold statement piece, I wanted desperately to fit in and appear “East Coast Chic”.

Time pressed on and my desperation to fit in floated down the Hudson along with my need to live in the big city. Back to the midwest I went, ready for a nap and ready to start a new.

Through all of this, I must admit, I’d somehow grown attached to that early NY purchase. While I knew it would likely spark hate and debate amongst family and friends, it was embarking on the new chapter. In my new favorite hat, I tucked away everything I really needed from New York:

A vision of who I wanted to be along with an arsenal of memories and experiences to get me there.

Here we are in 2020 and I refuse to part ways with that NY Hat. While I don’t rock the original on the regular, I have remained true to my personal branding and I cannot deny the accessory itself is still such a part of me.

Oh, that’s silly?
You’re rolling your eyes?

Let me explain:
Every time I look at my hat, I am reminded.
I am reminded of my journey, the things I have created and the amazing people I have met along the way.

I remember times when pushed my hat high up on my head so my teams could truly see the pride I had for them in my eyes.

I remember times when I was so stressed or sad, that I pulled the brim down to my chin, so as to escape the world around me, and I cried.

Most importantly though:
I remember who I was, who am TODAY and the person I am working hard to be, every single day.

So, there is the answer.
That’s What’s Up With That Hat.