display | more...
A Scottish choreographer, and for many years the mainstay of the Royal Ballet. He was born in Dunfermline on 11 December 1929, but grew up in Great Yarmouth; and died in October 1992. He trained at the Sadler's Wells school, and in 1946 was a founder member of Dame Ninette de Valois's Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet.

He began as a dancer: his first choreography was performed on 1 February 1953, the ballet Somnambulism to music of Stan Kenton. His first major commission was Danses Concertantes (1955, music of Stravinsky). He created his Romeo and Juliet for his regular muse Lynn Seymour, to music of Prokofiev, which premiered on 9 February 1965. This was taken on by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev.

In 1966 he took over the Deutsche Oper ballet in West Berlin and created versions of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, and a new ballet Anastasia (1967, music of Martinu, for Lynn Seymour).

He became director of the Royal Ballet in 1970. Here he created Manon, possibly his masterpiece (1974, music of Massenet, starring Antoinette Sibley, Anthony Dowell, and David Wall), as well as Elite Syncopations and in 1978 Mayerling. He also created Requiem (music of Andrew Lloyd Webber) for Stuttgart in 1976. He created Gloria then in 1981 Isadora.

MacMillan also directed plays: Ionesco's The Chairs and The Lesson and Strindberg's The Dance of Death.

He was knighted in 1983. Sir Kenneth died suddenly, backstage at Covent Garden, at the first night of a revival of Mayerling. He left his widow Deborah Macmillan and a daughter Charlotte. His loss, at the age of 62, shocked and devastated English ballet, for whom he was the major creative figure. He discovered and promoted a 19-year-old Darcey Bussell (for whom he made The Prince of the Pagodas and Winter Dreams), he had been inspired decades before by the young and rising Lynn Seymour, and he had been screamed at by Sylvie Guillem.