News: Dance world pays tribute to Dame Gillian Lynne

Monday 2 July 2018

By ItzKingFran123 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Tributes are pouring in for dancer, choreographer and director Dame Gillian Lynne, one of the most influential figures in British dance and musical theatre, who has passed away at the age of 92.

As choreographer of over 60 West End and Broadway shows, Lynne is best known for bringing her iconic jazz dance style to Cats and Phantom of the Opera, two of the most successful and longest-running musicals in history. Last month her outstanding contribution to the stage was marked when The New London Theatre in London’s West End – the original home of Cats – was renamed the Gillian Lynne Theatre, making it the first West End venue named after a non-royal woman.

Lynne started her career as a ballerina, joining the Sadler’s Wells Ballet at the age of 16 after she was spotted by Ninette de Valois, and dancing as a soloist with the company, which later became The Royal Ballet. She went on to work as a choreographer and director with companies including Northern Ballet, the Bolshoi and Australian Ballet alongside over 150 TV and film credits.

Her many accolades include two Olivier Awards: Outstanding Achievement for her Choreography of Cats in 1981, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013; a BAFTA for her BBC TV dance drama A Simple Man; and Vienna’s Silver Order of Merit, Golden Rose of Montreux Award for her work on The Muppet Show. She was appointed a Dame in the 2014 New Year’s Honours for services to dance and musical theatre.

Leading figures from across the worlds of dance and theatre have been paying tribute to Lynne, who is survived by her husband, Peter Land.

On Twitter, Matthew Bourne writes: “RIP Dear Gillie… you supported and inspired me from the very beginning… your spirit & love of dance & dancers lives on in all of us who share that love”

Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and Chief Executive, says:

“Dame Gillian Lynne was a warm, passionate and inspiring dancer and choreographer. Through her work and endless enthusiasm, she gained the affection and admiration of large audiences, as well as influencing many dance makers and performers of our time. We send our heartfelt condolences to Dame Gillian’s husband, family and friends.”

Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O’Hare pays tribute to Dame Gillian’s “immeasurable” contribution to British theatre:

“From her early golden years with the Company working alongside Ninette de Valois to her ground-breaking choreographic adventures in musical theatre she lit up the stage with her tenacious drive, boundless energy and positive spirit.”

Birmingham Royal Ballet, who worked with Lynne in 2014 on a new version of Miracle in the Gorbals, have said: “It was a privilege to work with her. She will be deeply missed.”

Last night, several West End theatres dimmed their lights in Dame Gillian Lynne’s memory.

Photo: Gillian Lynne at the 2013 Olivier Awards held at the Royal Opera House. Photo by ItzKingFran123 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

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