A seminal influence on British dance and musical theatre, Dame Gillian Lynne started her career in 1942 at age 16 before joining the Sadler's Wells/Royal Ballet Company in 1944 where she became a soloist performing at the newly opened Covent Garden Opera House. Her many roles included the Black Queen in Checkmate, Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Queen of the Wilis in Giselle and also in ballets created by Robert Helpmann, Frederick Ashton, Ninette de Valois and George Balanchine.
Following her successful performing career as the star dancer at the London Palladium, on early British television and as Britain's foremost exponent of Jazz Dance, Lynne went on to be a leading director/choreographer of her generation. Notable dance credits include Fool on the Hill for the Australian Ballet, Journey for the Bolshoi Ballet, Lippizaner, The Brontes for Northern Ballet and Some You Win for Irek Mukhamedov's Company.
Best-known for her ground-breaking work on Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, Lynne has directed or choreographed over 60 productions on the West End and Broadway, most recently the UK premiere of Jerry Herman's Dear World in 2013. She has worked on 11 feature films, and over 150 television productions as producer, director, choreographer or performer.
Earlier this year Lynne released a landmark exercise DVD aimed at mature audiences entitled Longevity Through Exercise.
Lynne has received numerous accolades including two Olivier Awards - the first Award for Outstanding Achievement for her Choreography of Cats in 1981 - while in 2013 she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement 'Special' Olivier. Other awards include Vienna's Silver Order of Merit, Golden Rose of Montreux Award for The Muppet Show, Samuel G.Engel Television Award (USA) for her conceptual drama Le Morte d'Arthur, a BAFTA for her dance drama A Simple Man which she directed for BBC television, a Molière Award and The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award from the Royal Academy of Dance who elected her Vice-President in 2012. Gillian was honoured with CBE in 1997 and made DBE in the 2014 New Year's Honours List for her services to Dance and Musical Theatre, the first woman to be honoured in this way.