(b Isle of Lewis, c.1939)
British mime, actor, dancer, and director. He studied at Bradford Art College and Rambert Ballet School and first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1964, appearing subsequently in cabaret, musicals, and film (including Ken Russell's Savage Messiah, 1972). In the early 1970s he produced David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust concerts and achieved his own first hit with Flowers in 1973, a mime, dance, and music spectacle based on Genet's writings in which Kemp played Divine, the first of his exotically larger-than-life creations. Later shows have included Salome (1977), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1979), Cinderella (1995), and Dreamdances (2002). Kemp has also created two works for Ballet Rambert, The Parade's Gone By (mus. Miranda, 1975) and Cruel Garden (with C. Bruce, mus. Miranda, 1977, revived English National Ballet, 1988). His work has always enjoyed greater popularity in Europe and Japan than in the UK, where Kemp's harshest critics have dismissed his flamboyance and excess as indulgent. He has made appearances in several films including Derek Jarman's Jubilee (1977) and Todd Haynes's The Velvet Goldmine (1998) and in 2007 directed a production of Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann (Calabria Festival). He is now based in Italy.
Subjects: Dance — Theatre.