News: Born dancing: arts world pays tribute to Lindsay Kemp

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Lindsay Kemp photographed by Allan Warren

Tributes are being paid to Lindsay Kemp, the influential avant-garde dancer and choreographer who passed away on Saturday in Tuscany, where he lived, aged 80.

Known as a mentor to David Bowie and Kate Bush, Kemp was admired for his provocative and subversive work. He was a unique and charismatic artist who spanned several art forms including dance, mime, theatre and cabaret.

Kemp trained with Rambert and studied under mime artist Marcel Marceau and dancer Hilde Holger before forming his own dance company in the 1960s. In a 2016 film by Rambert, posted yesterday on Twitter, Kemp states: “I realised that I wanted to dance when I first realised anything at all – I was born dancing”.

His signature work, Flowers, based on Jean Genet’s novel Notre Dame des Fleurs, brought Kemp wider recognition, transferring to London’s West End in 1974 following performances at the Edinburgh festival. His later performances in London included a retrospective of his work, Dreamdances, at Sadler’s Wells’ Peacock Theatre in 2002.

He worked closely with David Bowie, directing and performing in the Ziggy Stardust concerts at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park in 1972. His film credits include roles in The Wicker Man (1973) and Velvet Goldmine (1998).

Kate Bush, who received dance lessons from Kemp, has described him as “inspirational” and “a truly original and great artist of the stage”.

Kemp remained active as a performer and teacher until shortly before his death. His last UK appearance was an installation with singer songwriter Tim Arnold and photographer Andy Fallon at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall in June.

Among those paying tribute to Kemp on Twitter was Boy George, who describes him as a “genius”, and photographer Mick Rock who states “He touched all who came in to contact with his unique and revolutionary creative personality. He influenced all of us. There will not be another like him.”

Photo: Lindsay Kemp photographed by Allan Warren. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons

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