In 2009, with his creative fires still burning brightly, as though a child’s eyes were shining behind an ageing mask, a new project was agreed with the Teatro Goldoni in Livorno (producer of many of the operas he had directed). This involved a long-range period of intense teaching activity, in long courses culminating in fine productions with a devoted and developing group of students, including “Cenerentola” (April 2009), “Sospiri di Balera” (May 2010) and “I Sing Ammore” (February 2011), which also involved personal appearances by the maestro within the performance. This arrangement also allowed him to insert his own projects between periods in Livorno. Eventually this would lead to him selling the last of his homes in Todi, and moving to Livorno. These workshops and their final productions marked the beginning of his invaluable and constant collaboration with Daniela Maccari, who would dance and choreograph with him, with increasing intensity and closeness, up to (and beyond) the rest of his life. In this period, assisted by Maccari, he also worked with young opera singers at the Teatro Goldoni in Livorno, taught workshops in Madrid at the Conservatorio Real, in Rome, and guested frequently with Italy’s Balletto del Sud, directed by Fredy Franzutti, as Carabosse in “The Sleeping Beauty” and as Katschei in “The Firebird”. In 2011 he starred as Hecuba in Micha Van Hoecke’s dancetheatre evocation of “Pathos – The Trojan Women”, produced by the Ravenna Festival, where it made its debut, before going on to tour the ancient Greek theatres of Sicily. In the same year he also directed and played the leading role of The Director in “L’Illusionista”, e new reworking of his ballet “The Parades Gone By”, produced by the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome. In April 2012 he performed the many roles played by The Devil, in his staging of Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale” with David Haughton as Narrator, Daniela Maccari as the Princess and Filippo Sassano as the Soldier, premiered at the Showville Theatre in Bari, with orchestra conducted by Angelo Cavallaro (later, the Soldier would be played by Luciano Guerra). Meanwhile, he continued his lifelong passion for teaching, with workshops in numerous cities in Italy, the UK and Spain, and mounted frequent exhibitions of his drawings and paintings.
In 2013 he revived his operatic staging of “La Traviata”, with the collaboration of Haughton and Maccari, in Lecce and Brindisi. This was followed by a three week workshop in Verona, titled “Perché sei tu?” (or “Wherefore art thou?”), with Daniela Maccari, concluded by a Romeo and Juliet-themed performance. In late May he pulled out all the stops to play all the roles in “Peter and the Wolf”, with Haughton as Narrator, accompanied by the Youth Orchestra of the Mascagni Institute, in Livorno (where by now he had been living for several years). He also began to accept invitations to numerous “Encounters with the Public” – events also involving video collages – where he successfully exercised his charismatic entertainer’s arts in amusing and enchanting a public… as many people who knew him well have always said, he had an incredible gift for making people laugh. He also performed in Grand Galas, including Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Teatro del Silenzio’ in the countryside near Pisa, and a return to work with Julio Alvarez in a Gala in Verona.
He was constantly active, though as always various projects embarked upon fell through, including a new production, developed in every detail for over six long months, with music by Arturo Annecchino and Sergio Rendine and the cast ready, only to be cancelled owing to budget cuts: a tragedy, because Lindsay had brilliantly developed the role of a lifetime for himself… as Dracula, the love-sick romantic monster.
And so, in early 2014, having passed the age of 75, planning and rehearsals began for a new show, “Kemp Dances”, which would turn out to be his last full-length production… a fact that only became apparent after more than four years of unforgettable and still Dionysian performances. As ever, his roles were always self-portraits that evolved as he grew older, which was why his powers in front of an audience never faded… whether for people who had adored him for over 30 or 40 years or for new generations that knew of him from internet and his work with Bowie and Kate Bush. “Kemp Dances” – like much of his later work – was technically streamlined and essential: a distillation of pure emotion. Its subtitle was “Inventions and Reincarnations”, and it consisted of a series of numbers, some of them new “reincarnations” of some of his greatest roles, and some of them new “inventions”. In this adventure he was accompanied by Daniela Maccari (both as principal dancer and choreographer), David Haughton (lighting and organisation, plus performing), James Vanzo and Ivan Ristallo. You can read more details about “Kemp Dances” at the end of the “Shows 1962-2018” section of this website. It was performed in Sassari, Rome, Genova, Livorno and Trieste, had several long successful tours in Spain, and then in Gioia del Colle, Volterra and Florence.
“Kemp Dances”, therefore, during 2016 and 2017,alternated with more workshops, exhibitions, encounters with the public, talks, Galas, and also awards… including an honorary degree from Milan’s Brera Academy and a medal from the city of Florence, in Palazzo Vecchio. Never one for official ceremonies, he joked wickedly about these public “lifetime recognitions”, but was undeniably happy about them too. He also began to be invited back to the UK: in May 2016 he gave an MA Workshop Course in RADA, based on Romeo and Juliet, and in the same period was celebrated in two eventful evenings organised by Nendie Pinto-Duschinsky at the Ace Hotel. In September, he was invited, fêted and honoured for a week in his “home town” South Shields… where he inevitably found almost nothing he could connect with as the town he grew up in.
October-November-December, and January 2017, saw rehearsals and a revival of his much-loved production of “The Magic Flute” in Livorno, Pisa and Lucca (along with ‘Butterfly’, his greatest opera production), again with his Haughton-Maccari team. This was alternated with performances of “Kemp Dances” in Spain: he was so happy to perform in many of his favourite Spanish cities, the sites of his greatest triumphs nearly four decades before, and of his most passionate public.
The summer months of 2017 involved further workshops and exhibitions, and limited edition merchandising experiments involving his drawings on T-shirts, bags and pottery and – as further proof of his lifelong enthusiasm for limitless artistic interbreeding – a complex fashion teaching project with the IED Design Institute, titled “Kemp Dreams Kabuki Courtesans”: after several weeks, this concluded with dozens of young designers wearing their own highly individual theme-designs in a final outdoor performance in the Museo del Novecento in Florence. The Japanese inspiration behind this project and performance was also present in especially created dances by Kemp, Maccari and Alessandro Pucci, accompanied by the percussionist Joji Hirota… returning after many years to revive his unique ability to stimulate and follow Lindsay’s improvised dances, as he had so many times in ‘Flowers’, ‘Salomé’ and ‘Onnagata’, now in a sunlit mediaeval cloister in Florence. This partly overlapped with the preparations for a whole series of events in Florence in September, a kind of many-faceted two-week Kemp Tribute involving workshops, performances, exhibitions, talks and installations, mainly based in the Le Murate Museum, an ancient ex-convict and ex-prison complex. “Kemp Dances” was performed in Volterra, then one last time in Spain (in the Festival de Porta Ferrada), and then one last time in Italy, at the Teatro Puccini. During these months his website (lindsaykemp.eu) was finally created and launched, thanks to an intense and happy collaboration with the ever-patient Paola Autera… a work in progress that he was proud to have and happy to develop. By then, internet in general had provided him with a great door to the world for several years. In October, Daniela Maccari again accompanied him to the UK, for “Illuminations”, a week of workshops organised by Dance Space, Edinburgh, with a final public performance. Further trips to the UK came in April 2018, for a workshop in the Guildford School of Acting, part of the University of Surrey. In June he was a central figure in “What Love Would Want”, a multi-layered multi-media project by his musician friend Tim Arnold (they both shared, among other things, a mythologisation of 1960s Soho). This consisted of four days of filming and performing by many artists and non-artists, in the Bridgewater Hall Theatre in Manchester, with Lindsay – in white silk with wings, as in his famous number “The Angel” – here playing the role, basically, of Love. His last dance in the UK.
In July he gave a workshop at the Accademia di Danza in Rome, and in early August he prepared an exhibition of new drawings, to be mixed with recently shot photos by Claudio Barontini for an exhibition in La Spezia. At this time, Lindsay was doing his best to advance more quickly on his autobiography (on which he had been working on and off for some decades, assisted by David Haughton, and recently also by James Vanzo). He was determined to sort out the creative years between Scotland and London in the early 1970s, in order to reach the definitive triumph of “Flowers” in London. He would laboriously write rough notes alone, for days, checking diaries and internet, spending hours on the phone with David, and then dictating to Daniela Maccari and, increasingly, James Vanzo, who had a gift for entertaining and inspiring him as they worked together. Planning was underway for a performance of “Kemp Dances” in Pistoia. Lindsay was euphorically happy… even his lower back pains were abating! James was staying for several days, to work on the book and to rehearse the show, with the ever-present Daniela. The 23rd of August was James’s birthday, but they decided to have a celebratory supper the following evening. So, on the 24th, joined by Alessandro Pucci, friend and performer in “Kemp Dances”, they cheerfully rehearsed through the afternoon in the large dance studio on the outskirts of Livorno, always generously lent to him by the Atelier delle Arti. Lindsay did his slow silent stretch while the other three did class. Then they rehearsed various numbers, joking or serious, and as usual he made various modifications… always asking for more. To finish he performed “The Angel” for them, but without using his silk wings. The group returned to his flat in Scali Saffi 21, and before supper Lindsay worked with Daniela on finding more dates for the show and discussed a new number, and then had an inspired session on the book with James. After that he said he felt tired and a bit strange and would lie down for a while before eating. When he reached his bedroom, the others heard a loud thump on the floor. In an instant, he had gone. His heart… carried away by Love yet again. A miraculously brief and blessed exit.
Throughout his life, he was always immersed in preparing projects for the creation of new “shows” that simply had to somehow “go on”. And go on they did… except for very occasional “down, down, down days” when he secluded himself in bed. But “Living marvellously” was his goal and his gift. He had always said that he had to dance in order to live and to live in order to dance… and that all his activities were different ways of dancing his inner dance, and sharing it with the world. As he would always chant in his classes, shining and spreading epiphanies, especially during the final bows – spreading his arms to embrace the sky and his students, encouraging everyone to fly, die and rise again, to make a gift of their light and love – “For You!… for You!…For you!” For you.
© David Haughton 2012, revised 2019