John Gilpin


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(b Southsea, 10 Feb. 1930; d London, 5 Sept. 1983)

British dancer. A successful child actor, he studied dance from 1940 at the Cone-Ripman and Rambert schools. In 1943 he won the Adeline Genée Gold Medal, the youngest person ever to do so. He joined Ballet Rambert in 1945, becoming a principal. During the 1949 season he danced with Roland Petit's company, and in 1950 with Le Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. Later in 1950 he returned to London and joined London Festival Ballet, first becoming its premier danseur and then its artistic director (1965–7). Widely considered to be one of the most brilliant male dancers Britain had produced, he also guested with the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre among many others. He created roles in Howard's The Sailor's Return (1947), Ashton's Le Rêve de Léonor (1949), Beriozoff's Esmeralda (1954), and Dolin's Variations for Four (1957). As a ballet master and teacher he worked in Copenhagen, Ankara, and Tokyo. He appeared in Maxim Mazumdar's play Invitation to the Dance, which was based on his own life, and starred as Oberon in Lindsay Kemp's Midsummer Night's Dream in Italy in 1981. He won the Nijinsky Prize in Paris in 1957. Published his autobiography, A Dance With Life, in London in 1982.

Subjects: Dance.

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