The Project of a Lifetime: Filming for “Next at The Kennedy Center”

by | Apr 18, 2023 | Warm Note

I’ve been keeping a big secret since November 2022… and now I finally get to share it with you!

Kennedy Center, myself and many members of my video team have been hard at work on an absolute dream project: a 15-camera, made-for-broadcast dance performance film with The Kennedy Center!


Back in December, I directed, for film, the performance of Ballet Hispánico’s Doña Perón by choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.

We were filming for a series called “Next at The Kennedy Center,” to be broadcast nationally on PBS. This is the first time The Kennedy Center has ever produced a dance performance to televise for the series — other episodes have focused on music from The Roots, Joni Mitchell and Charles Mingus.

If you know my personal story, you know this is the project of a lifetime!!!


I started out as a dancer and performer, touring all over with a musical dance group when I was young, and studying dance and broadcast journalism in college. I founded Nel Shelby Productions when I moved to New York City in 2001… At first, I was pursuing a career in performance, auditioning for dance gigs on cruise ships, but I soon realized all my college dance footage was fuzzy, far away and completely unusable for applying to jobs. There was a need out there for better quality dance video, and it became my mission to make it.

22 years later, my husband keeps reminding me that “NSP knows dance.” Not only have we been around for two decades of advancements in video production and livestream possibilities, but we’re a team of former and current dancers. My videographers, editors, and even my project & marketing managers, fully understand what dance feels like, and what it’s like to be on stage.


It’s important to understand how dance feels when you film it, and that’s something I carry with me to each film project.

All of this is why NSP was the go-to company to direct, film and edit Doña Perón for The Kennedy Center on PBS. I’ve truly been working my entire career for this, and I can’t wait for you to watch it! 


The full-length performance is now available to watch online for free at


Tune in soon! The opportunity to watch for free will expire on May 12th! 


I know our next dream project is right around the corner! I love this work, and I want to direct more & more dance for television and film!!


I’m so thrilled and grateful to have worked with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa & Eduardo Vilaro on this project. NSP has filmed Ballet Hispánico countless times, in NYC and at Jacob’s Pillow and Vail Dance Festivals. Annabelle is Artist Faculty for The School at Jacob’s Pillow, and I’ve filmed years of her work with the dancers there… I’ve known them forever, and they feel like family.

I am so honored to be a part of this project, and I am excited for every single team member who contributed to this massive accomplishment! (Please see a list of credits at the end of this post!)

Please watch and write to me when you do →

I’d love to hear from you!! 

With gratitude,

PS: It’s incredible to realize that what started as a mission to help individual dancers get better jobs has grown into these large-scale film projects that introduce the magic of dance and inspire audiences all over the world… Whenever I step into this kind of dream Director/Producer role, it is always a “pinch-me moment,” even though we’re now equipped and experienced enough to do so more often. Our dreams keep coming true!!

PPS: You can still watch the film after May 12th by becoming a member of PBS Passport!


Ballet Hispánico explores Evita Perón’s diverging legacies in this invigorating and emotional work by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.

Executive Producer: Matthew Winter
Executive Producer: Steve Holtzman
Co-Executive Producer: Kristin Fosdick
Producer: Emeline Carlisle
Consulting Producers: Alicia Adams, Jane Raleigh
Editors: Ashli Bickford, Sunghye Jung
Director of Photography: Tony Donghyuk Yoon
Directed By: Nel Shelby
Ballet Hispánico
Special Appearances By:
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa (Choreographer)
Eduardo Vilaro (Artistic Director & CEO of Ballet Hispánico)
Next at the Kennedy Center Concert Crew:
Assistant Director / Camera Operator Ashli Bickford
Camera Operator: Caroline Haidet
Camera Operator: Grace Swihart
Camera Operator: Mike Mintz
Camera Operator: Nate Reininga
Camera Operator: Rick Burks
Steadicam Operator: Myles Shank
Steadicam Operator: Tyler Davis
Production Assistant: William Webb
Media Manager: William Dickson
Jib Operator: Chris McCary
Jib Assist: Ron Winters
1st Assistant Camera: Evan Luzi
2nd Assistant Camera: Nick Gorey
3rd Assistant Camera: Alex Guckert
Assistant Camera Technician: Harry Oakes
Audio Recordist: Colin Egan
Assistant Camera Technician: Ben Janusz
Gaffer: Nathan Taylor
Audio Recordist: Jeremy Sheeler
Grip: Drew Loughlin

Nel Shelby is Owner & Filmmaker for Nel Shelby Productions, her New York City-based company dedicated to dance videography and editing. Nel shares her mission to preserve and promote the art of dance with her husband, Christopher Duggan, a dance and wedding photographer. They collaborate on projects with dance companies of worldwide renown, up-and-coming choreographers, dance educators, dance schools and more. Nel is Video Producer at Jacob’s Pillow and Vail Dance Festival and is also the proud Director and Producer of PS DANCE! — a New York Emmy-nominated documentary about dance education in NYC’s public schools.