Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Darlex

Lynn Seymour at 80

Recommended Posts

Tomorrow will be Lynn Seymour's 80th Birthday. Wishing this fabulous artist all the very best.  What a wonderful array of different roles she created: from comedy to tragedy and sheer beauty. How she has enriched the British ballet scene - a real treasure to be cherished!

  • Like 22

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes Happy Birthday to this wonderful dancer who inspired choreographers to achieve some of their greatest work. A dance actress par excellence.Perhaps she has refused a damehood - she certainly deserves this recognition of her achievements.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


When I was still a very young child and had never seen Seymour dance, I found Keith Money's books in my parents' den and his photographic record of many of her performances seemed to open onto an entirely new world of what was possible to express--to be and to do--as a ballerina. Later, I saw her dance just a very few times, but those few times made a huge impact on me. I have a kind of visceral memory of her Natalya Petrovna in A Month in the Country in particular.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of my ballet teachers had danced with her in the Sadler's Wells days, and taught us The Burrow - he adapted the Seymour role for me. I was unaware of her at that point, but then read up on her work, and had a huge case of imposter syndrome. She then actually taught and mentored the pro dancer in my family, with advice that I still remember in class.

 

So an all round artist - at a time when "ballerinas" weren't supposed to have agency or creativity, but just dance beautifully. She's a model for the new kinds of dancers (particularly women artists) training now. And blows apart the passive beautiful starving ballerina stereotype. (thank goodness)

  • Like 12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy Birthday to a great ballerina.  I only saw her dance a very few times but you can see from the works created for her just how special she was.

 

I have seen on this forum before that as Lynn is Canadian she cannot be offered or accept a Damehood from the UK government.  I gather a similar situation applies to Australians. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you sure about that - Kiri Te Kanawa is from New Zealand and has been made a Dame?  I had the good fortune to see Lynn dance several times, one of the truly great 20th Century dancers.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy Birthday to one of my favourite dancers.  Sadly I only saw her dance a couple of times, towards the end of her career, one of those times being Act 3 of Anastasia.  I can still remember it all, how she sent shivers down my spine and how it was the first time I realised how acting could be combined with dancing to make something incredible.  She was a real trailblazer for all who follow in her wake.  Her influence is still strongly felt today and long may that continue.  

 

Very best wishes to Lynn.  

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I know that Australia had a brief interval when Damehood and such honours were reuntroduced but that has ended.  The introduction of the Order of Australia in 1975 meant a decline in the old Imperial awards.

Edited by Two Pigeons

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Pas de Quatre said:

Are you sure about that - Kiri Te Kanawa is from New Zealand and has been made a Dame?  I had the good fortune to see Lynn dance several times, one of the truly great 20th Century dancers.

Just to point out that New Zealand and Canada are two different countries....

It`s Canada that has decided that Canadian citizens can`t accept knighthoods etc. This has  been the case since 1919.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to add my congratulations to Ms Seymour as well. It's hard to believe she is now in her ninth decade! She was a wonderful dancer. It would be well to remember that although she is frequently regarded as a great dramatic dancer (and she was), she was a great all-round dancer. She was one of my favourite Giselles and excelled in a huge repertory. I remember, as well as the rep she danced in Berlin, her performances as Aurora, Raymonda, Giselle and in the Two Pigeons as well as the Macmillan ballets and in Robbins. She took risks in her interpretations and there was always a sense of excitement at what we, the audience, were going to see when we settled into our seats at the start of a performance featuring her. I remember, after the first night of Dances At A Gathering at Covent Garden, Robbins remarking that he hadn't realised how much humour was there to be exploited before seeing Seymour in rehearsal.  Seymour was also an exemplary classicist - her prologue fairy in Beauty and first shade's variation in Bayadere are benchmarks in how to shape a Petipa variation. Later in her performing career, I remember when it was announced that Macmillan was creating a ballet based on Isadora Duncan, everyone assumed that he would be doing so with Seymour and the total shock and disbelief that ensued when it was discovered that he would be using Merle Park. No-one, even now, can understand it. She contributed greatly to the development of the Royal Ballet and is unmatched  still in many of the roles she performed.

As a footnote, I noticed that it's Ann Jenner's birthday today (75) as well as Irek Mukhamedov's (a junior 59) - so happy birthday to them, too.

  • Like 11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy Birthday to Lynn!  My very first Giselle and Swan Queen (in the full-length), an amazing Juliet, a gorgeous Fairy of Beauty, a masterful Girl in Green, and a peerless Natalya Petrovna.

And, speaking of Prologue Fairies, I will never forget Ann Jenner’s.  Happy Birthday, Ann!

  • Like 12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, toursenlair said:

Just to point out that New Zealand and Canada are two different countries....

Gosh who knew!  But seriously it seems a shame, when so much of Lynn Seymour's career was in UK and the Queen is Head of State for all the above mentioned Commonwealth countries.  I suppose Sir Robert Helpmann wouldn't be allowed his Knighthood either these days.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, she is a Dame to all of us, official or not.  And she is certainly a lady.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, now voyager said:

 

And, speaking of Prologue Fairies, I will never forget Ann Jenner’s.  Happy Birthday, Ann! 

Thank you for alerting me - I didn't know they shared a birthday. I have a special regard for Ann Jenner. Peerless as Lise and  in Symphonic Variations . Yes, a wonderful Fairy of the Songbird and Firebird. I  would have loved to see her in Dances at a Gathering  so many other things she did so well .

Two beautiful ballet dancers. 

Wanted to add to my earlier post about Lynn Seymour that for any of our younger forum members who may not be aware of the quality of her dancing, there are some wonderful clips on YouTube from Giselle, Mayerling , The Invitation and A Month in the Country which illustrate  the beautiful fluidity and dramatic intensity of her dancing.  

Edited by Odyssey
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also Macmillan created Juliet on her and it was a great shame that she wasn't allowed to be first cast.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And, as I understand, she (then Lynn Springbett) emerged from a fairly special year at the newly-named Royal Ballet School that also had Antoinette Sibley and Marcia Haydée in it.  

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

One of my great ballet wishes is that some kind body would release a DVD of the televised programme for, I think, Sir Fred's 70th birthday.  It was shown on BBC 2 and I remember my mother and I being absolutely riveted to it all, but especially Seymour and Dowell in Month in the Country.

 

Although that was both the climax, I will always remember Sir Fred coming on and repeating Dowell's final act of kissing the long ribbons of her frock, there were other performances I have cherished.  Marion Tait and David Ashmole with SWRB in Les Rendezvous (in the proper designs without a spot or ghastly washing up gloves to be seen).  After that we had Monotones and then Lesley Collier as Alice with Wayne Sleep and Graham Fletcher as Tweedledumb and Tweedledee.

 

Proper Ashton performed by proper Ashton dancers supervised by the Great Man himself.

Edited by Sim
corrected Ashton's 7th birthday to Ashton's 70th birthday!!
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Pas de Quatre said:

Also Macmillan created Juliet on her and it was a great shame that she wasn't allowed to be first cast.

That disappointment affected her for the rest of her career, not surprisingly.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

The start of Lynn Seymour's career coincided, verry luckily for me with the start of my own ballet-going - the first time she appears in the programmes I've kept, she was still listed as Lynn Springbett. She was just doing corps de ballet roles - a friend of Swnilda's etc - and the first solo i saw her do, a year of so later, was in the Swan Lake pas de trois (done as a divertissement  - this was before the touring RB had the full length Swan Lake. Only 3 years later she was one of the company's stars, and I remember an amazing fortnight when I saw her 4 nights running in 4 different roles (Les Sylphides, Aurora, The invitation and Two Pigeons) and then  the next week  as Odette/Odile, the pas de deux in Les Patineurs, the Girl in Solitaire (twice) and another Aurora (much better than the first one - no one ever accused Seymour of being consistent!). And I have to say that if I could see one of those over again it would be Solitaire - she was so funny, way the best of anyone I saw in that role.

 

(Also dancing with the company in those 2 weeks were Beriosova, Nerina, Sibley, Doreen Wells, David Blair, Donald Macleary, John Gilpin and Christopher Gable!)

 

My best memory of Ann Jenner is from the coda of the Swan Lake pas de trois one night - one of those moments when the music and the dance become one and you remember it for ever.

 

                                           

Edited by Jane S
  • Like 18

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

no one seems to have mentioned her in Card Game - marvellously funny. As others have said her range of roles was huge. Makes me feel very old, remembering i saw her and Anne Jenner frequently when they were at their very best!

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I'm loving reading all these reminiscences about her. Looked on youtube for some clips of her dancing but there is not much available. Gosh some of you have been watching ballet for so long, and have such good memories and experiences that you share here. I'm so glad to be able to learn from you! (I'm just barely out of my 20s and hope to be watching ballet, and maybe reading and writing on this site, for at least 60 more years... Maybe I will be talking about Marianela Nunez the way some of you are talking about Lesley Collier! 

Edited by SMballet
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, SMballet said:

some of you have been watching ballet for so long

Is that a tactful way of saying that there are a lot of old people on here?

I suppose that everyone tends to remember early experiences (in ballet-going anyway)most clearly.

Something Ian Macmillan said above led me to check and I realised that Antoinette Sibley had her eightieth birthday just over a couple of weeks ago. Now she was the ballerina who was most influential in shaping my love of ballet..... but don't get me started as I should then go on at interminable length!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No no! Not saying that at all. Oh no, I hope it didn't sound ageist of me. I just wanted to say that I do very much enjoy reading the reminisces of some of the more experienced ballet watchers here, and it is sometimes startling for me to realise how long so many of you having been watching and loving ballet, whereas for me it's only been a few years and I'm very much still at the stage in my life where I'm forming my likes and dislikes. So the longer-time watchers are true ballet fans, whereas people like me are just newbies, and it is good for us to learn from them. I mean that in full admiration. If some people here have watched Lesley Collier dance then it means you've been watching for more than 40 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Which is amazing. 

 

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, SMballet said:

No no! Not saying that at all. Oh no, I hope it didn't sound ageist of me. I just wanted to say that I do very much enjoy reading the reminisces of some of the more experienced ballet watchers here, and it is sometimes startling for me to realise how long so many of you having been watching and loving ballet, whereas for me it's only been a few years and I'm very much still at the stage in my life where I'm forming my likes and dislikes. So the longer-time watchers are true ballet fans, whereas people like me are just newbies, and it is good for us to learn from them. I mean that in full admiration. If some people here have watched Lesley Collier dance then it means you've been watching for more than 40 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Which is amazing. 

 

 

It didn't sound ageist at all, SMballet! It was a lovely post. I'm fortunate enough to have discovered ballet more than 40 years ago, and it's been the most incredible blessing. Lucky you, with so many years ahead of you!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not at all ageist!  It’s simply a fact of life:  there’s always someone older than you, and someone younger than you.  Yes there are old people on this forum, and if you young ones are learning from them and appreciate the knowledge, that’s a wonderful thing!  

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just like when I joined the Friends of Sadlers Wells, I guess in the early 90s.  There were all these people reminiscing about what so-and-so had been like in a specific role, and I felt so envious!

 

PS: I had the opportunity to see Seymour in Anastasia's Act III with ENB in 1989, I think, but turned it down because I was a very new balletgoer at that stage and didn't know anything about the pieces on the mixed bill :facepalm:  I think the only thing I've actually ever seen her in was dancing the Queen in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

When I started ballet going exactly 40 years ago I was hugely jealous of old fans who had seen Fonteyn, Shearer, Markova and Ulanova.  My grandmother saw Pavlova but. Oddly enough, I didn't feel envious about that.   Had it been Karsavina I might well have seethed but I reserved that emotion for the fact that she had seen Gertrude Lawrence and Noel Coward in 'Private Lives'.

 

I take great pleasure that I did see Fonteyn (but only when she was 60) and Sibley when she came out of retirement.  I still regard the two performances of Cinderella with Dowell as among the very best highlights of my ballet going years.

Edited by Two Pigeons
Left out Markova
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 09/03/2019 at 11:53, Two Pigeons said:

 

 

I take great pleasure that I did see Fonteyn (but only when she was 60) and Sibley when she came out of retirement.  I still regard the two performances of Cinderella with Dowell as among the very best highlights of my ballet going years.

Is it heretical to write that the one she did with David Wall was, if possible, even more breath taking (I did see her with Dowell post return in consecutive seasons), although I accept that my loving memory of that performance has as much to do with my childhood veneration of Wall. I came to love Sibley later, even though she was my first Giselle on the occasion of her ROH debut in the role.

 

However, the final Sibley / Dowell Manon is an absolutely indelible memory. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...