Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, Kenneth MacMillan (1929-1992) became a student at the Sadler’s Wells School (today the Royal Ballet School) at the age of 15 thanks to a scholarship.
MacMillan began his professional career in the early 1940s as a performer with the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet, now known by the name Birmingham Royal Ballet, and with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, later renamed the Royal Ballet. He created his first major work, Danses concertantes, in 1955, and went on to become one of the greatest choreographers of his generation. His ballets, notably Romeo and Juliet, Gloria, Manon, Mayerling and Requiem, are distinguished by their psychological acuity and by their expressive use of classical language.
If the majority of his creative work took place in England during his almost-50-year association with the Birmingham Royal Ballet and with the Royal Ballet – which he headed from 1970 to 1977 and whose principal choreographer he was from 1977 to 1992 – MacMillan also directed the Deutsche Oper Ballet in Berlin (1966-1969) and served as associate director of the American Ballet Theatre (1984-1990). The Canadian performer Lynn Seymour was his muse for a number of years.