A Different Drummer: the life of Kenneth Macmillan

A Different Drummer: the life of Kenneth Macmillan - Jann Parry This is a very solid biography, more than 700 pages long, but I did not find it padded in the least. Macmillan, who was a genius, really did that much in his too-short life, and as one who was swept away at various ages by Romeo and Juliet and Manon, intrigued by Mayerling, and thoroughly entertained by Elite Syncopations (to name only the works that made the biggest impression on me, for I have seen others), I was perfectly happy to be taken through the details of his formation as a dancer, and then choreographer. He spanned the generations of British dance, starting in the touring company in the days of de Valois, and ending by choreographing for Darcy Bussell and setting Juliet on stars like Sylvie Guillem. Parry is scrupulously fair (or at least I think so) in her account of his travails as a senior administrator of various companies. She does not try to defend the indefensible - it sounds as though he was undeniably abrasive and difficult at times, though perhaps not on the same scale as, say, Jerome Robbins. As for his personal life, this is a 2009 biography, so there is no unnecessary prudishness, but neither (to Parry's credit) is there breathless gossipy speculation, and she appears to have had the full cooperation of Macmillan's widow, Deborah, and his daughter, Charlotte. Finally, as a dance critic herself, Parry includes a fair-sized selection and analysis of the critical reception for Macmillan's various works, and does not give her own published views precedence though she cites them occasionally. I thought this was a very polished and admirable piece of work, and so, apparently, did the people who awarded it the 2009 Theatre Book Prize. Though I read it from the library I may at some point acquire this for my own shelves.