Sir Kenneth MacMillan (1929 – 92) —


Sir Kenneth MacMillan created more than 60 ballets, including five full-length works, during a career of remarkable creativity.

One of the most innovative choreographers of the 20th century, Sir Kenneth MacMillan was driven by a conviction that ballet should reflect contemporary realities and emotional truth. During a career of remarkable creativity, he created more than 60 ballets, including five full-length works. As well as his long association with the Royal Ballet as Director and Principal Choreographer, he created ballets in Stuttgart, served as Director at the Deutsche Oper Ballet in Berlin and was Artistic Associate of American Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet.

Born in Scotland in 1929, MacMillan was granted a scholarship to the Sadler's Wells School and in 1946, became a founding member of the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet. Soon after, he moved to the larger Sadler’s Wells company, based at Covent Garden. Turning his hand to choreography, his first ballet, Somnambulism, was performed on 1 February, 1953.

Commissioned by Dame Ninette de Valois, Danses Concertantes immediately established MacMillan as a choreographer of note. In the following years, MacMillan choreographed many works, including Noctambules, Solitaire, Winter’s Eve and The Invitation. Royal Ballet Principal Lynn Seymour became his muse and continued to be so for another twenty years. MacMillan’s definitive production of Romeo & Juliet was commissioned for the Royal Ballet, opening to rapturous acclaim at Covent Garden in 1965.

In 1966, MacMillan was invited to direct the ballet company at Deutsche Oper in West Berlin, where he staged his own productions of The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake and created the one-act ballet Anastasia (subsequently becoming part of a full-length work).

He assumed the directorship of the Royal Ballet in 1970 and continued to choreograph, creating Manon and Elite Syncopations. In 1976, MacMillan made Requiem for Stuttgart Ballet and in 1978 created My Brother, My Sisters for that company. Mayerling was produced at Covent Garden in 1978 and received a triumphant American première in the same year. Later works included The Prince of the Pagodas, Winter Dreams and GloriaMacMillan created his fifth full-length ballet, Isadora, in 1981.

Kenneth MacMillan was knighted in 1983 and in 1984, while remaining chief choreographer of the Royal Ballet, he became Associate Director of American Ballet Theatre (ABT) for five years. At ABT, he staged two new works, Wild Boy and Requiem.

Sir Kenneth MacMIllan died in London in October, 1992 at the age of 62.