Keene State College freshman brings a new flavor to the breakers


Michelle Berthiaume

Social Media Director


When you look at Shane Kelly, you might see a confused freshman struggling through his first year of college. But when you talk to him, you will see a confident, well-versed young man that loves to smile.

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Shane Kelly was born in Port Royal, Jamaica. Last year, Kelly decided to leave Jamaica in search of the American dream. What he found may not seem like the American dream to you, but to him, this experience is everything he could dream.

Five years prior to Kelly’s expedition to the United States, his cousin, from Kingston, Jamaica, Shaun Chen made the same journey. In America, Chen moved in next door to soccer coach, Ron Butcher.

After speaking with Butcher a few times, Chen decided to come to Keene State to play soccer. Although he no longer plays for the Owls, Butcher still receives credit from Chen on his decision to attend Keene State.

“The coach is a real good guy and he takes care of his players. And I knew he would take care of me. That’s why I chose Keene State,” Chen said.

During the summer of 2011, Shane Kelly decided on Keene State as well. Upon arriving, Kelly found his niche. That niche was the Keene State Breakers team.

“I was just walking by a group of people that were break dancing on campus one day. And I thought to myself, wow that’s really interesting. I just started talking to a few members of the team and found out I could join the team,” Kelly said.

In Jamaica, Kelly spent a lot of time dancing and doing gymnastics. Kelly said that since 2006, breakdancing has been very prominent among young people. Kelly saw his peers breakdancing in Kingston, Jamaica after school when all grades would meet at a central location before buses came to take the students home.

“If you go into downtown Kingston at around 3 p.m., you will find people breakdancing. They would just take pieces of cardboard, set them up, and get a bunch of circles going of people dancing. I ended up doing it just because everyone else was doing it,” Kelly said.

He brought his love for dancing to America with him.

Upon enrolling at Keene State, he reconnected with his cousin, Chen. They rekindled their bond with their common interests of dancing and playing soccer.

Chen said that he is thankful Kelly decided to come here because since Kelly started classes at KSC, he has motivated Chen to do a lot of things.

“He really motivates people to do things. When I left Jamaica, I kind of quit dancing and when he came here, he got me back into it,” Chen said. “That’s something I thank him for because dancing helps me get rid of a lot of emotion. I just go out, dance and have fun and forget about a lot of things.”

The pair dance and sing together on a regular basis, a connection they lost when Chen left Jamaica.

Kelly is a natural dancer. He has a lot of experience in gymnastics, something he did before he started breakdancing.

Kelly said that his gymnastics background definitely helped him learn how to breakdance.

“Your body already knows the movements. My body already knew certain flips, spins and positions you use in breakdancing. And that made it easier for me,” Kelly said.

He added, “Take back flipping for example. You have to first get used to the feeling of falling backwards and not seeing what’s behind you. Without the gymnastics background it’s harder to get used to that feeling.”

Kelly combined his two loves for dancing and gymnastics into another art form, breakdancing. Chen said that Kelly’s love for dancing helped him become a better breakdancer.

“He loves to dance. He will just be walking around the house dancing for no reason. Sometimes he doesn’t even need music. That’s just who he is,” Chen said.

Kelly credited his love for having fun along with his need to release stress as the reason he got into dancing.

“Why do people enjoy the stuff they enjoy? Because it’s fun. And breakdancing helps me relieve stress,” Kelly said.

Kelly added, “I relate dancing to being on a swing set. I like the feeling I get when I’m on a swing set, the butterflies in your stomach. And it’s almost the same feeling when you’re dancing. You’re body isn’t doing much but you feel like you’re flying.”

Kelly loves dancing but his real passion is making those around him happy.

“He’s that guy that’s always smiling and he’s always happy and you need those types of people around you to make you happy. My friends and family give me all this confidence that I need in my life, especially Shane,” Chen said.


Michelle Berthiaume can be contacted at

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