Liz Kelley-Hansen, Raytown South High School, Class of 1969
Liz Kelley-Hansen is a 1969 graduate of Raytown South High School. Normally, people find their passion in their adult years, after they have some time to sort through their options; however, Liz found her passion for dance in her teens. At 14, she was youngest member of the Corps De Ballet at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, and she has spent her life as a singer, dancer, dance instructor, and studio owner.
At the age of 17, Liz moved to California to follow her dream of working with famous actor and dancer, Gene Kelly. It was performing with him that caught the attention of Greg Garrison, the producer of the Dean Martin Show. Liz was invited to join the singing and dancing entourage known as the Golddiggers on the Dean Martin Show in 1969.
During a three-year span, she had the honor of working with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Charles Nelson Riley, Goldie Hawn, Vincent Price, Jimmy Stewart, Tina Turner, Sonny and Cher, Barbra Streisand, Ernest Borgnine, and Jimmy Durante, to name a few. In 2017, Liz was invited to participate in Deana Martin’s Las Vegas tribute for her father Dean’s 100th birthday. In 1970, Liz toured with the Bob Hope USO tour in Vietnam, performing for troops throughout the country. Liz’s service to veterans is notable and has continued throughout her life. As a part of her service, she makes appearances with Huey Helicopter and is currently lending her support to a new effort to build homes for displaced veterans.
In 1978, Liz returned to her roots in Kansas City and taught at the Westport Ballet Company, American Dance Center, and the Jewish Community Center. She opened her own dance studio, Dance Studio 1 in 1984, which has been and continues to be the home to many aspiring young dancers over the past several decades.
For her support of veteran causes, Liz was honored with the National President’s Award and a lifetime membership from the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 243. On September 3, 2017, Liz received a Department of Defense Vietnam War Commemoration Certificate of Honor.