Born in Dunfermline on 11 December 1929, Sir Kenneth MacMillan grew up in great Yarmouth where he took lessons from Phyllis Adams. Training at Sadler’s Wells (now Royal) Ballet School, he became a founder member of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet, for which he made his first experimental Workshop ballets. Their success and their promise led Ninette de Valois to commission the Stravinsky ballet Dances.
MacMillan then danced with the Covent Garden Company, returning to Sadler’s Wells eventually abandoning dancing for choreography and in The Barrow he discovered the dramatic gifts of Lynne Seymour, whom was to become his muse.
During a period of remarkable creativity he created plotless ballets like Diversions and Symphony to big company works such as The Rite of Spring. Romeo and Juliet, MacMillan’s first full-length ballet was created in 1965 for Seymore and Christopher Gable followed by Anastasia, Manon, Mayerling, Isadora and The Prince and the Pagodas.
MacMillan also created ballets in Stuttgart, served as Director of Ballet at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and was Artistic Associate of Houston Ballet. He directed plays and worked on award-winning television productions. His last choreography was for the National Theatre’s Carousel for which he won the Tony Award on Broadway. He was much honoured for his services to British ballet, culminating in his knighthood in 1983. In 1993 he was given a special Laurence Olivier Award for lifetime achievement.
MacMillan is survived by his widow, the artist Deborah MacMillan, who realised the Company’s new production of Anastasia in May 1996 and is responsible for all revivals of his ballets.
Sir Kenneth MacMillan died in 1992.