Lindsay Kemp, dancer and mime who influenced David Bowie, dies at 80

He is credited with helping Bowie create his Ziggy Stardust persona and teaching Kate Bush to dance

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2018, 2:35am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 August, 2018, 2:35am

The influential British dancer, choreographer and mime artist Lindsay Kemp, known for tutoring singers David Bowie and Kate Bush during his career, has died at 80.

Director Nendie Pinto-Duschinsky, who is making a documentary called Lindsay Kemp’s Last Dance, said on Saturday that Kemp died suddenly after a “perfect” day rehearsing with his students. He was about to work on his memoirs and to go on tour, she said.

She wrote on the film’s Facebook page that “I’m so sorry to tell you Lindsay passed away last night … he was very happy and it was very sudden.”

The Italian news agency ANSA reported that he died during the night at his home in Livorno, Tuscany. Kemp left Britain in 1979 to live in Spain before later moving to Italy.

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Kemp, who often performed in stark-white face make-up and dramatic costumes, was born in 1938 and formed his dance company in the 1960s. He is credited with helping Bowie create his Ziggy Stardust persona and teaching Bush to dance.

Kemp choreographed and performed during Bowie’s celebrated Ziggy Stardust concerts in London in 1972, and also made cameo appearances in the films The Wicker Man and Velvet Goldmine.

ANSA reported that Kemp directed a dance course at Livorno’s Goldoni theatre, and was until recently working on a social theatre project that he had hoped would be put on in Como, Italy, in September.

“His (performance) was pure poetry in motion that was able to astonish for its uniqueness and originality,” said Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence. He added that while Kemp had worked with some of the world’s greatest stars, he always helped train new generations to whom “he always tried to transmit, with generosity and humanity, his art” which was never “banal, never taken for granted.”