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Gillian Lynne is a British ballerina, dancer, actor, theatre director, television director and choreographer, best known for her iconic choreography of Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. She was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1926. At the age of ten she won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dancing, after which she joined the Cone Ripman School before being selected to join Molly Lake's Ballet Guild and Ninette de Valois's Sadler's Wells. As part of what would soon become the Royal Ballet, she was renowned for her portrayal of the Black Queen in de Valois's Checkmate, Queen of the Wilis in Giselle and in roles created for her by Frederick Ashton and Robert Helpmann. Her film, television and stage credits include many long-running West End and Broadway shows, productions for the RSC and English National Opera and The Muppets. She continues to produce television, film and stage productions and lives in London.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 10 November 2011. This is a portrait of a wartime childhood like no other. Eye-opening, inspiring and moving, it charts the struggles and joys of reaching for the top of a profession that knows no limits, during a time of determined national pride and hope.
London during the Blitz was a time of hardship, heroism and hope. For Gillian Lynne - a budding ballerina - it was also a time of great change as she was evacuated from war-torn London to a crumbling mansion, where dance classes took place in the faded ballroom. Life was hard, but her talent and dedication shone through and an astonishing journey ensued, which saw Gillian dancing a triumphant debut in Swan Lake, performing in the West End with doodlebugs falling and touring a devastated Europe entertaining the troops. A Dancer in Wartime paints a vivid and moving picture of what life was really like during the hard years of the Blitz and brings to life a lost world.