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About the Change

Lynn Seymour

Lynn Seymour was a one-off. On her good nights she was glorious, and on nights when she wasn't having a good time, it was extremely obvious. She threw herself into whatever role she was dancing with total commitment, and few dancers have left their mark so indelibly on their created roles. Most people associate her with the tragic heroines of Kenneth Macmillan, but she was much more than that - a brilliant comedian in Solitaire or Dances at a Gathering, and a dancer of melting, fluid beauty in the second act of Giselle, A Month in the Country, or Ashton's Isadora Duncan waltzes.

Seymour is Canadian, of Scottish descent. Her early dance training was in Vancouver, where she was auditioned by Frederick Ashton in 1953 and given a scholarship to the Sadler's Wells Ballet School. (Her class included at one time not only Antoinette Sibley but also Marcia Haydee - perhaps the greatest constellation of talent ever seen in one classroom.) She was taken into the Sadler's Wells Opera Ballet after two years, and then joined the touring Royal Ballet in 1957. Half way through her first season she created her first solo role - an Adolescent in Kenneth Macmillan's ballet The Burrow. It would hardly be true to say that Macmillan 'discovered' her - her talent had been obvious to the whole organisation from the start - but he certainly identified in her the dramatic ability that was to break the mould of the Royal Ballet's ballerinas and to allow him to start creating the series of psychological dramas on which his fame mostly rests.

Seymour's name first became known outside the ballet world in 1960, with the success of Macmillan's shocking The Invitation; but her next role, only 3 months later, showed a completely different side of her talent. Ashton cast her in the lead of his lovely, romantic Two Pigeons, and she was able to show her brilliant sense of comedy and her uniquely lovely feet, which Ashton adored! Juliet followed in 1965 - perhaps her most famous role, and attended by offstage dramas that seem to have marked her for life. She followed Macmillan to Berlin when he moved there as director, coming back to the Royal Ballet in 1971, in time to create the role of Anastasia in the full length version of Macmillan's ballet.

Throughout her career Seymour struggled with injuries, illness, her weight, a tempestuous private life, and - unusually for a dancer - she also had three sons by the time she was 36. She made a glorious return to the Royal Ballet after the birth of the third one, but after a few more years - which had included first ventures into choreography and a fairly disastrous stint as director of the Munich Ballet - she decided the constant fighting to keep fit was too much and she retired a few days before yet another return performance. She's never really left the stage, though, and has recently been appearing in AMP's Swan Lake, which no doubt she is thoroughly enjoying. One of the great dramatic ballerinas of the world, the first of her kind in the Royal Ballet, she was one of the generation who made the sixties and seventies a golden age for ballet goers.< {top}

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