When Kelly Moss Southall came to D.C. back in 2006, he started rather modestly.
The 31-year-old Chillicothe, Ohio resident had just finished college at Ohio University and came to the District to accept what was essentially a part-time position with the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company.
Though he would eventually get a master’s degree and teach dance at George Washington University as well as work a “day job” in real estate, the allure of joining Burgess was enough to get him here.
“I just kind of thought I should dance now while I can and the rest is really history,” the company’s associate artistic director says. “Dana has a real gift for seeing potential in people and honing in on other skills that might be useful, so I’ve been able to do a lot of things with costume design, lighting design and sets that’s overall felt very artistically satisfying.”
Tonight (Friday) and Saturday, the company will present “Four By Burgess,” at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) to celebrate its 22nd season. Tickets are $21-35. Visit kennedy-center.org for details. The company, which critics have called a “national dance treasure,” also has an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery through July. Visit dtsbdc.org for details.
Southall is in the midst of planning a wedding with his partner, Sergio Herrera. They live in Brookland with two cats and a dog and also run Scout Properties, a residential real estate company, together. Southall enjoys decorating, gardening, shopping, dancing and playing the piano and accordion in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out the summer between my senior year of high school and first year of college. The first person I told was my sister. We were driving home from a family event on the Fourth of July. In a way she was the hardest to tell, simply because she was the first, but her reaction was so supportive and joyful that any awkward feelings I had were quickly brushed aside.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
My good friend Terry Penrod. At a time when I was trying to figure out my future plans beyond college, it was great to have a friend/mentor who taught me about gay culture, history, dating and more.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights
Describe your dream wedding.
One that I don’t have to plan! Sergio and I have been planning our wedding since he proposed last June. There have been many variations but nothing is set as of yet. I want a private ceremony and a big party for friends and family. Sounds easy? Trust me, it’s not.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
My top two are animal cruelty and research for non-fossil fuel energy sources.
What historical outcome would you change?
Temporal Prime Directive! I wouldn’t change any historical outcome.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
“Wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII is the first moment that comes to mind.
On what do you insist?
The house must be spotless before company arrives!
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A flier for our Kennedy Center performance this weekend.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“The Life & Times of Mr. Kelly”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would probably read about it on Facebook, think it’s a post by The Onion and continue scrolling down.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
After the lights go out, the show’s over, so make it count!
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep up the amazing work!
What would you walk across hot coals for?
A cure for cancer, to save a member of my family from injury or death, if my friends dared me to or to see how it felt.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
None. Stereotypes exist because it is in our nature to identify, compare and categorize.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Oh there are so many! I’ll go with classics like “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” “The Birdcage,” “Flawless,” “Hedwig & the Angry Inch” and “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
A small collection of items from my mom’s father. He passed away before I was born, so I never had the opportunity to know him. I have two sets of cufflinks, a tie bar and his pearl-inlayed pocketknife.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Hard to say. I don’t have any regrets.
After graduating from college in 2006, I went to Pittsburgh to audition for a dance company (I ended up not getting the job). While I was there I met Jan Tievsky, the board president for Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company. She noticed my potential and mentioned Dana’s company. When the company came back from its tour to Peru, Dana gave me a call and invited me down from Ohio to audition. After three days of dancing with the company, he offered me a position and I never left.