Different Drummer: The Life of Kenneth MacMillan by Jann Parry is the first complete biography of one of the greatest choreographers of the twentieth century, a real-life Billy Elliot.
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Kenneth MacMillan’s ballets are in constant demand by world-famous companies, particularly Romeo and Juliet, Manon and Mayerling. However, MacMillan was tormented by an acute sense of being an outsider, and often at odds with the institutions in which he worked.
A real-life Billy Elliot from a Scottish working class family, MacMillan demonstrated a prodigious talent for dancing from an early age. Following the premature death of his mother, the young MacMillan sought an escape, and despite his father’s disapproval, secured a place at Sadler’s Wells. Paradoxically he found himself crippled by stage-fright during the height of his professional career, leaving him with only one option – choreography. He went on to produce ballets which defied convention and became renowned for challenging audiences. Despite criticism, MacMillan achieved international acclaim, becoming artistic director of both the Berlin Ballet and the Royal Ballet. On a personal level he found unexpected happiness with his wife and daughter in the later stages of his life, making it all the more tragic when he died suddenly at the age of 62.
This stunning biography reveals a complex artist who fiercely guarded his own privacy, whilst his ballets communicated his darkest and most intimate thoughts.
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