Accessibility links

|

Sign In
Basket
Basket

Kenneth MacMillan

Choreographer

Biography

Kenneth MacMillan (1929–92) was one of the leading choreographers of his generation. His close association with The Royal Ballet began when he joined The Sadler's Wells School (now The Royal Ballet School) aged 15. He was Director of the Company 1970–77 and Principal Choreographer 1977–92. His ballets are distinguished by their penetrating psychological insight and expressive use of classical language. These qualities are demonstrated in his many works for the Company, which include Romeo and Juliet, Gloria, Manon, Mayerling and Requiem.

MacMillan was born in Dunfermline and discovered ballet while evacuated in Rutford during World War II. Aged 15 he forged a letter from his father to Ninette de Valois requesting an audition. He joined Sadler's Wells School on a full scholarship, later entering the Company. He created his first major work, Danses concertantes, in 1955 and went on to become one of the world's leading choreographers. Positions away from the Company included Director of Deutsche Oper Ballet Berlin (1969–9) and Associate Director of American Ballet Theatre (1984–90). He continued to create masterpieces throughout his life, including The Prince of the Pagodas (1989) and his last work The Judas Tree in 1992. He died backstage at the Royal Opera House during a revival of Mayerling.

Some of MacMillan's most significant muses included Lynn Seymour, Christopher Gable, Monica Mason, Marcia Haydée, David Wall, Darcey Bussell and Irek Mukhamedov.

Videos

News and features

Ballet Essentials: The Four Temperaments / Untouchable / Song of the Earth

Ballet Essentials: The Four Temperaments / Untouchable / Song of the Earth

26 March 2015

Our quick guide to The Royal Ballet’s mixed programme featuring Hofesh Shechter's debut with the Company and masterpieces by George Balanchine and Kenneth MacMillan.

Female Character Artists: from loving mother to bloodthirsty baddy

Female Character Artists: from loving mother to bloodthirsty baddy

5 February 2015

These expert dancer-actors are as important to the drama as the leading lady.

Stories without words: Narrative ballets and their many inspirations

Stories without words: Narrative ballets and their many inspirations

20 November 2014

How and where choreographers find stories has changed throughout the art form's history.

ROH Editathon: Improving Wikipedia's entries on dance

ROH Editathon: Improving Wikipedia's entries on dance

29 October 2014

Our recent event brought together ballet fans with Wikipedia experts to improve the online encyclopedia's articles on choreographer Kenneth MacMillan.

Watch: Members of the cast and creative team on Manon

Watch: Members of the cast and creative team on Manon

16 October 2014

Backstage films from the live relay of Manon, including Darcey Bussell and Deborah MacMillan on the choreographer's creative process and Royal Ballet dancers introducing the story and characters of the ballet.

Watch: Behind the scenes with The Royal Ballet in Taiwan

Watch: Behind the scenes with The Royal Ballet in Taiwan

8 October 2014

First Soloist Melissa Hamilton introduces newly-released backstage films from the Company’s tour earlier this year.

Photos