The short story

PART 1… EARLY YEARS: 1938 – 1960

Lindsay Kemp was born on May 3rd 1938, near Liverpool.  His father, Norman Kemp, was a naval officer who had met and married Marie Gilmour in South Shields, on England’s north-eastern coast. Norman and Marie’s first child had been a daughter named Norma, who died from meningitis at the age of five. Lindsay was conceived very much to take his sister’s place for her inconsolable mother. Along with her costumes and the miniature Japanese kimonos and fans her father had brought back from the Orient for her, he also inherited his sister’s talent for dancing and entertaining. But two and a half years later tragedy struck again: Norman’s ship was struck by a German torpedo and he was not among the survivors (sailors, the sea as freedom and death, the angel and the albatross... many recurring symbols in Lindsay Kemp’s [...]


In the late 50's, living in London and usually penniless, Kemp’s apprenticeship consisted of dancing with various small but ambitious dance groups, including the John Broome Dance Theatre (in 1954 he had studied with Broome in Bradford), the Hilde Holger Company and the Charles Weidman Company (on its visit to London). His unquenchable thirst for performing meant that he was enthusiastic about appearing in numerous short-lived shows of all kinds… learning by performing. In 1960 he made his London West End debut in the chorus line of Terence Rattigan’s musical “Joie de Vivre” at the Queens Theatre. This was followed by a long provincial tour of “Oklahoma”, where he was an unlikely but eye-catching chorus cowboy. On returning to London, he teamed up with two female friends to form a cabaret act. They called themselves “The Trio Linzi” and did [...]


From the success of ‘Flowers’ in 1974, Lindsay Kemp’s career was transported into an international dimension, and for the next 20 years was very much inseparable from that of the story of the Lindsay Kemp Company. In the present context, a chronology of these successes (punctuated naturally by adventures, dramas and set-backs) must obviously be highly condensed. In September 1974 Lindsay and the Company flew to New York, where ‘Flowers’ opened at the Biltmore Theatre on 7 October. It was astonishing that such an unorthodox show should appear On Broadway at that time, and it elicited extreme reactions, both positive and negative: feted by progressives and hated by conservatives (this would be a recurrent pattern for years to come), it hovered for 3 controversial weeks between success and closure, before having its run terminated at the end of the month. [...]


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, [...]

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