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It is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Kevin Richmond, after a brave and typically good-humoured battle with cancer.

 

For those of us lucky enough to have seen him dance with London Festival Ballet/English National Ballet (of which he was a member for 20 years), he will be remembered in particular as a truly wonderful dance actor, who created many roles of varying types. His most famous was probably as one of the jailers in Christopher Bruce's Swansong, which also starred Matz Skoog and Koen Onzia. This formed a close bond, and it delighted Kevin that Matz and Koen visited him together in Basel last year. They had a marvellous time.

 

I will say here that for the past 23 years, Kevin has been a close friend of mine. I missed him when he moved to Switzerland 14 years ago, but it was something he needed to do. He became an inspirational teacher and repetiteur, and was invited to ballet companies and schools around Europe to share his expertise and, no doubt, his wit and wisdom. He really enjoyed it, and always had funny stories to tell whenever he came to stay with us in London. He also had stories to tell about working with Nureyev, and travelling around the south of England with him in the car, expleting all over the place when they got lost on the way to a party. There were so many stories.

 

Kevin , from humble beginnings, started out as a teenage actor in Nottingham, acting in films and theatre. For one role, he had to learn some dancing so was sent to a local ballet school. Everyone immediately realised he had a natural talent for ballet, and this set him on his future path. Kevin combined acting and dancing to wonderful effect; I have never seen a better Dr Coppelius, and I doubt I ever will. He made me laugh and he made me cry, and that is exactly as it should be. In his later years with the company he became their outstanding character dancer, and I will always remember his Friar Laurence to Tamara Rojo's Juliet, when she was just starting to make her name at ENB. He proudly displayed a framed photo on his wall of the two of them in these roles, which she had signed saying 'thank you for everything Kevin, with lots of love Tamara.' He was a very touching Scrooge in Christopher Hampson's production of A Christmas Carol at the Festival Hall, and a hilarious Grandpa in Hampson's Nutcracker for ENB. Hampson created both roles on Kevin.

 

It is thanks to Kevin that I am here, on this forum. One evening, in 2003, over a glass (ok, several glasses) of wine I was (as is my wont) ranting off to him about a dreadful thing I had seen at The Place. He was in stitches, and asked if I had ever heard of ballet.co.uk. I said no, and he insisted I check it out and start posting my thoughts up there. I did check it out, but was too shy and embarrassed to post anything for a few months. He kept nagging me about it, always asking if I had posted anything yet. With each negative reply, he said 'just DO it. Don't worry what other people think. I know from performing, some people will like it, some won't. So what? Just get your thoughts out there.' So eventually I did....and 16 years later, here I am. I have interviewed many great dancers (it was he who suggested I interview David Wall, and introduced me to him at the stage door one evening where they were both hanging out together having a fag), reviewed many performances and got on the Olivier Awards Dance Panel three times, all thanks to his inspiration.

 

I will of course remember him as a wonderful artist and a great teacher (he even allowed me into his beginner's ballet class at the London Studio Centre, but as I always yelled at him after class, his idea of beginner and mine were totally different!), but most of all I will remember him as a fun, funny, compassionate human being who always had time for a friend. I will remember the endless laughing, the free-flowing red wine, the backstage tours, the dinner parties, the talking late into the night when he stayed with us, and all the other good times. I will remember how wonderful he was to my daughter when she was a little girl and little budding ballerina; he would coach her, he would give her some professional lifts just to show her what it was like, he would come to her little dance shows. She loved him as much as he loved her. Latterly, he was so proud of her blog and of the young woman she has become, and loved talking to her about the ballet performances she had seen.

 

A few years ago he had a brain haemorrhage and was lucky to survive it. After months of rehabilitation and hard work, he was back. It was therefore doubly cruel when he received his cancer diagnosis. Why, after all that, was he now being struck down by this, way too soon? I ask myself this often, and in anger, but there is no answer.

 

My answer from the heart is to remember him as the great artist he was, and for all the pleasure he gave so many people, both strangers and friends. But most of all I will remember him as someone who lit up my life, and I will be forever grateful that we crossed paths and and then stayed on the same one. There are some people that you are always glad came into your life, and Kevin was one of them. The last time I saw him was last month, when I flew over to Basel to spend the day with him in the hospice. I went with another close friend of his. His dad and brother were there, Matz was there, some other friends were there. We ate, we drank, we walked, we talked, we ate some more, we laughed. We hugged, long and hard, because we both knew it would be the last one.

 

RIP dear friend, go in peace, and thanks always for being a part of me, and for allowing me to be a part of you.

 

Kevin Richmond

21/2/58 - 13/03/19

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Thank you Sim for sharing such wonderful memories. I’m very sad to hear this news. I vividly remember Kevin as Tybalt (and Koen as Mercutio) at a performance of R and J at the Leeds Grand in October 1986. Utterly thrilling! After the performance I *had* to see it again and bought a balcony ticket for £1 for the Saturday matinee. I saw him in the years following in various roles including in the incomparable Swansong. A special dancer and clearly a special person, I am very sorry for your loss.

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Although expected, it's such dreadfully sad news Sim.

 

I loved Kevin Richmond as a dancer with LFB/ENB, he filled every role he ever danced.  His role as a gaoler in Swansong was utterly unforgettable as was his interpretation of Tybalt.

 

Thank you for this beautiful memoriam Sim.

 

Sincere condolences to Kevin's family and friends.

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I'm very sad to hear this, Sim, and thank you for your wonderful tribute. He was a great dancer and clearly a great and treasured friend who lived a full and fulfilled life. May he rest in peace, and my condolences to you and all his family and friends.

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I’m very sad to hear of the loss of your dear friend Kevin , may he rest in peace and may his soul continue dancing in the heavens .

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Dear Sim, I didn't know him but, quite apart from his qualities as a dancer, I can see that we here have much for which to thank him.

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Thank you for this lovely tribute to Kevin, who was also my friend from his earliest days with Festival Ballet.  In fact, when I first met him socially at an LFB party, when he had already had a few drinks, he decided my name was too difficult to pronounce so I was always "Kate" to him from then onwards.  I last saw him  in 2011 at the wonderful 60th anniversary celebration at Markova House, attended by dancers and people associated with the company over the six decades, but we kept in touch on Facebook.  He was always great fun to be with and a wonderful artist on stage.  I am sure, like many people, my abiding memory of him on stage will be as one of the three  amazing original cast members in the unforgettable "Swan Song".  He will be missed by all who had the great fortune to know him.

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Thank you Jan so much for your lovely tribute to dear Kevin. I last caught up with him three years ago in Nottingham where we actually spent an afternoon drinking huge quantities of tea ( of all things ) and spending hours chatting and laughing away with each other. I am so glad that you, Matz and some other friends were able to see him at the hospice and for him to enjoy a good time with you all. He would have absolutely loved it and he will indeed be missed by so many people.

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So sorry to hear this news Sim. I remember his dancing days in LFB very fondly. Xx

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23 minutes ago, BalletAssociates said:

Thank you Jan so much for your lovely tribute to dear Kevin. I last caught up with him three years ago in Nottingham where we actually spent an afternoon drinking huge quantities of tea ( of all things ) and spending hours chatting and laughing away with each other. I am so glad that you, Matz and some other friends were able to see him at the hospice and for him to enjoy a good time with you all. He would have absolutely loved it and he will indeed be missed by so many people.

It was me, not Jan!

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Thank you, Sim, for sharing your memories of someone who was undoubtedly a very special human being. Those memories will always keep him close.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for your lovely tribute to Kevin Sim. I am so glad you that you were able to be in Basel with him. Sadly I was not able to go, but we were in frequent contact.

 

Kev and I had been friends for almost 40 years and I remember well all the roles you mentioned. Yes he was a very special dance actor, and I never thought it was possible to be moved by Dr Coppelius but Kevin managed it, by making Dr Coppelius a rounded human being.  Here's a clip of Kev in Christopher Bruce's Swansong where you can see his power as a performer.

 

 

A few years ago I watched Kev run a ballet acting workshop at Ballet Cymru. It was fascinating to see him working with the dancers;  encouraging them to do everything with subtlety and meaning.

 

Thanks to someone Kev introduced me to, my career has been as a dance photographer, but most of all I will remember many hours spent together chatting in good humour....

 

Be in peace now dear Kev. 

Kevin_Richmond_Sian Trenberth PhotographyKevin.jpg

Edited by @ballet_sweat_n_tears
Adding a photograph
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I had to turn my inbox upside-down, but managed to confirm that the earliest email I still have in it is from Kevin, dated about 20 years ago, thanking me for my enthusiastic memories of his performances as Tybalt in ENB's Ashton Romeo & Juliet on the early ballet.co.uk site (I suspect I was recalling him and Patrick Armand's Romeo going hell-for-leather in the fight scene at the end of Act II) - and telling me he still had the bruises (I think it involved Tybalt rolling down a few steps, and Kevin never gave less than 100%!).  I also have fond memories of meeting him at one or two of the early Ballet.co Christmas dinners Bruce used to put on, and of course he was a member of that incomparable first cast of Christopher Bruce's Swansong, which I saw on TV and was blown away by.

 

My deepest condolences to his family, friends and all those who mourn him.

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What a beautiful tribute Sim. So sorry for the loss of your dear friend. 

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Thank you so much for this lovely obituary for Kevin.  So good to hear more about him and his life and to know old friends from London came to visit him in Basel. Would love to share some Swiss memories. I met Kevin here in Basel in classes he taught for freelance dancers after he left Ballet Basel. His classes were wonderful and hilarious and good for an at-times homesick Brit. It felt like a little part of London had been teleported to Schweiz. Kevin helped me so much when I decided to go back to dance in my mid-thirties, never telling me I was off my rocker doing something when most people my age were about to quit; I would not have been able to do what I did without him. He helped me and so many others out here with so many aspects of dance: deal with what was getting in the way mentally, technique, balance, sensitivity, expression, performance, creativity everything really. Abiding memories of being instructed to "wear some lippie and get on with it" when trying to balance dance and getting out of the flippin house on time with two little ones. I will wear red lippie and something great in his honour for whatever takes place here in his memory. He was such a big figure in the freelance dance scene here in Basel (and elsewhere in Switzerland) and made such an impact. It's a small community and he really shaped it. He helped and coached many, many dancers, was always super encouraging, facilitated putting people in contact with others to set up projects, creative collaborations, companies. I am glad he found happiness late in life. So nice to hear more about his ENB days and to see clips. I wish I could have seen more of him as a performer and artist.  It's a close place here and he is and will be deeply missed. There will never be another K. Thank you Kevin for everything. 

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Welcome to the forum, Olivia - I'm only sorry it had to be for such a sad reason.  And thank you for that lovely tribute to Kevin.  He has clearly meant a lot to very many people.

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I echo Alison's post, Olivia.  Thanks for posting up your memories of our wonderful guy.  xx

 

Thanks to all of you who posted above.  Your words are very comforting.

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Thank you for posting this Sim; what a lovely photo. I feel for you; that is a long-time friendship. I am not sure what is happening here and whether he wanted a private funeral but if there is something public perhaps I can deliver an in-person hug. We all felt his presence in class yesterday. And I was remembering how he used to bring raspberries from his garden to class. You couldn't do that in London, I used to think... Hugs to you, Olivia x

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3 hours ago, penelopesimpson said:

A person I never knew or even knew of, but thanks to your amazing and poignant review, I have been privileged to briefly make an acquaintance with.

 

That's a great way of putting it @penelopesimpson. I've been feeling the same reading posts on this thread but haven't been able to find the right words to say so.

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