Andrea Kelly is more than just the ex-wife of R&B superstar R. Kelly, she's a classically trained dancer, mother and now fitness instructor.
The Chicago native who auditioned for Kelly at 20 before becoming his principal dancer and choreographer, recently launched her Le Pink Kitty Sensual Dance Fitness Classes focusing on women's health through an embrace in sexuality and seduction.
Just a week after opening the doors to her fitness classes the mother of three sat down with HipHopWired to talk her new clothing line, break down her sensual fitness classes and explain why she decided to pay homage to R. Kelly's songs through her sessions.
HipHopWired: Tell me about your Le Pink Kitty Sensual Dance Fitness Classes, where did you get the idea to do that?
Andrea Kelly: It came from my love for dance. I'm a formally trained dancer, I do ballet , modern, jazz and some elements of African. And Bob Fosse is a choreographer, I love his work—he did Chicago, Pippen and he also did a film called Cabaret. I liked the mix of jazz and modern with a sexual undertone to it that I thought was beautiful. I used some of the elements of his choreography and said how can I bring this work up to date? So I mixed pop, jazz and modern and I created Le Pink Kitty Cabaret. I felt like there was a need for it especially for women of color. I feel like we're always so misguided when it comes our sensuality.
We're seen as these sexual beings who can just dance in a video. So I wanted to have something to show that beautiful, sensual side of being a woman, something that celebrates our full lips, our full butts, our thick hips and our thick thighs. That's how it all started.
HipHopWired: Describe me to the classes. I was intrigued when I saw the names were “Sex In The Kitchen”, “Slow Wind”…what made you want to choose names that are associated with your ex-husband's name?
Andrea Kelly: Actually it works the other way around. My ex-husband [R.Kelly] kind of associated me into his music. A lot of the songs you hear are about our lives.
HipHopWired: So the songs are about you?
Andrea Kelly: Yes, so what a great way to incorporate this into my classes! It teaches you how to get fit from a dancer's point of view. Dancers have very long and lean bodies. So I know women don't want to look like body builders, this is for a woman who wants to get fit but may not want to look like a dancer but want to see results.
HipHopWired: I know the class is about sensuality and sexuality, how do you plan to bring that then into your clothing line?
Andrea Kelly: My clothing line is very girly. I love the 70s era, I was a 70s baby. It was about that cinched waist and women wore belts with everything. So being a dancer what I usually wear is form fitting, it's lycra, it's a unitard so I tried to figure out how to bring this to the general public, the average woman who wants to feel s**ex--y. The average woman might wanna go out with her girls and be se^&y on a leotard or a little bodysuit and throw that Gucci belt across that waist. Yes! Give it to em, take it back!
HipHopWired: I also hear that you do some cabaret dancing. Can you tell us more about that?
Andrea Kelly: Yes it's my Le Pink Kitty Cabaret performance show. It's Bob Fosse meets Soul Train meets PussyCat Dolls. We're doing some music that the audience can relate to, I wanted it to be something that the audience can relate to. I dance to Erykah Badu, I have a piece that I do over Aretha Franklin “Rock Steady”…it's bridging that gap between secular, quote unquote “street Hip-Hop” dance and ballet. I want people to go to it and be exposed to it in a way that's entertaining.
HipHopWired: What would you say to a woman who's more reserved and says, “I don't know anything about ‘Slow Wind' or ‘Sex In The Kitchen?' How would you motivate them to come out?
Andrea Kelly: The first thing I would say is everyday of our lives we are so many things. If you have children you're the mother, the wife, the cook, the chauffeur, the vet, the plumber and so many other things but at the end of the day you're a woman. What makes you feel se##y? What makes you feel beautiful? If you don't know what that is yet you can come into my class and the first thing we do is just walk. We just walk, it breaks the ice for us.
Because we're in a dance studio and you see yourself from a dancer's point of view, it's just you and that mirror. It's just you and that moment. When the music comes on everything else fades into the background so I want them to have that experience. Even in life when you're walking down the street, think about when you're walking in my dance studio and all your insecurities fade into the background. That's what this class teaches you. Be confident. It's empowerment through movement and about getting physically fit and healthy which also makes you feel se###xy.
HipHopWired: Are you planning to expand across the country? That sounds like something here in Atlanta women would enjoy.
Andrea Kelly: Most definitely. We actually started the classes in Atlanta; we were at Devyne Stephens ‘complex. I'm bringing it back to Atlanta because the launch did so well here in Chicago. Please let all of Atlanta know that I'm coming back. It's just a great alternative to a girls' night out if you girls don't wanna go to a club and just wanna get a few cocktails and dance.
HipHopWired: Do you have any last words and any more information for ladies who want to sign up and take the classes?
Andrea Kelly: Yes they can visit my website www.AndreaKellyIs.com. And they can also visit www.AprilLove.com where they can sign up and RSVP. We also do private parties, bachelorette parties, ‘Just Because I'm Fabulous' parties. We also offer ‘Hooker Heels' class which is hilarious, it's just a class where we learn how to walk in heels. We're not born in heels, we're not toddlers and they throw heels on us. That's something you have to learn how to do. ‘Slow Wind' is a core workout, all my classes are getting you toned from a dancer's perspective. In closing I would just say that this really is at the end of the day it has such a sensual overtone, some sexual overtones which I think is very positive. If we take control of that we can do so much in life because that is the one thing that society uses to put us again each other. You want us to be beautiful and flawless but you teach us that we're weak and less than. Ladies if you're running on E everyone in your life is living off you. If we don't give to ourselves we have nothing else to give to anybody else. This class is bout taking that first step to bettering yourself. Once you better yourself, you can never go wrong. That is a life lesson I have learned.