Lynn Seymour

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Lynn Seymour
Born Berta Lynn Springbett
(1939-03-08) 8 March 1939 (age 76)
Canada Wainwright, Alberta, Canada
Occupation Ballet dancer

Lynn Seymour (born 8 March 1939) is a retired Canadian ballerina and choreographer.

Early life[edit]

She was born Berta Lynn Springbett in Wainwright, Alberta,[1] and studied ballet in Vancouver.

Early career[edit]

In 1953 she was auditioned by Frederick Ashton and given a scholarship to London's Sadler's Wells Ballet School. There she was in a class with Antoinette Sibley and Marcia Haydée - "perhaps the greatest constellation of talent ever seen in one classroom".[2]

In 1956, she joined Covent Garden Opera Ballet, then moved to the Touring Royal Ballet in 1957 and a year later to the Royal Ballet as a soloist, becoming a principal in 1959.

Her first created role was the Adolescent in Kenneth MacMillan's The Burrow (1958), the first of many ballets on which she worked with the choreographer. Her lyrical technique and intense dramatic powers were developed through the wide range of roles which she created with him including the Girl in Invitation (1960), the Fiancée in Baiser de la fée (1960) and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (1965, though Fonteyn danced the role at the ballet's premiere).

International fame[edit]

These works established her as the leading dance-actress of her generation, but she also danced the classic roles including Odette-Odile (1958) Giselle and Aurora (both 1960), and created roles in Ashton ballets including the Young Girl in The Two Pigeons (1961) in which she began a much praised partnership with Christopher Gable.

She was prima ballerina at Berlin Opera Ballet (1966–69) under MacMillan's direction and created the role of Anna Andersen in the one-act version of Anastasia (1967), after which she guested with various companies including London Festival Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, London Contemporary Dance Theatre and American Ballet Theatre.

In 1971 she returned to the Royal Ballet as principal guest ballerina (until 1978) with new MacMillan tempestous characters such as the Grand Duchess Anastasia in the three-act version (1971) and Mary Vetsera in Mayerling (1978) and created Ashton's Isadora in Five Brahms waltzes in a manner of Isadora Duncan (1975) and Natalia Petrovna in Ashton's A Month in the Country (1976).[3]

In 1973 she made her first ballet for the Royal Ballet Choreographic Group - Night Ride (mus. Finnissy). Her other works include Gladly, Sadly, Badly, Madly for LCDT (mus. Davis, 1975), Wolfie for Rambert Dance Company (mus. Mozart, 1987) and Bastet for Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet (mus. Berkeley, 1988).


She was artistic director of Munich State Opera Ballet (1978–80),[4] then she briefly returned to the Royal Ballet [5] before retiring and working subsequently as occasional coach at Covent Garden.[6]

She has also appeared as an actress in the Herbert Ross 1987 movie Dancers [7] with Mikhail Baryshnikov and come back to the stage with Northern Ballet Theatre in Gillian Lynne's A Simple Man (1987), with Second Stride in Escape at Sea (1993) [8] and with Adventures in Motion Pictures in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake (1996) and Cinderella (1997) in which she created the role of the Stepmother.[9] In 1989, at the invitation of Peter Schaufuss, she came out of retirement to dance again the title role of MacMillan's Anastasia with the English National Ballet in New York.[10]

In 2006-07, she worked in Athens as artistic director of the Greek National Ballet.


  1. ^ Lynn's Dance to the Music of Time, The Daily Telegraph, 26 Oct 1996 
  2. ^ - Legend
  3. ^ Royal Ballet performance of Frederick Ashton's A month in the country with Anthony Dowell as Beliaev - recorded c. 1980 on YouTube
  4. ^ Giselle with Rudolf Nureyev and the Bavarian Ballet - 1979 on YouTube
  5. ^ R&J bedroom pas de deux with David Wall - 1979 on YouTube
  6. ^ Kenneth MacMillan - choreographer
  7. ^ Lynn Seymour - actress on IMDb
  8. ^ The Independent 1993
  9. ^ Detailed performance directory on IMDb
  10. ^ seymour english national ballet&st=cse&pagewanted=1 NYTimes archive