Groovalutionary: Lindsay Kemp

Has a person ever filled you with inspiration and awe for the unique creative force in us all? The reality is we are all influencing each other in some ways here and there.

Meet Groovalutionary Lindsay Kemp. Kemp was a brave outlier in the pursuit of personal expression. He did his own thing and inspired even greater more popular artists, who then disseminated his style, his groove, onto the masses! He was known as a mentor to David Bowie, who then taught us all to dance. As an apostle of Kemp, Bowie affected the groove of a generation..He staged and performed in Bowie's Ziggy Stardust concerts at London's Rainbow Theatre in August 1972 and appears in the promotional video for Bowie's single “John, I’m Only Dancing.” Like dominoes, his life as a Groovalutionary, sparked creativity that continues to inspire thousands.

Kemp's spectacular productions combined mime, dance, theater and cabaret. The fullness of his commitment to his craft was admirable. Never giving up, Kemp continued to listen to his muses and built a life and a legacy of creating in dance, performance and film.

According to Kemp, he danced from early childhood: "I'd dance on the kitchen table to entertain the neighbors. I mean, it was a novelty in South Shields to see a little boy in full make-up dancing on pointe. Finally it got a bit too much for my mother, and she decided to send me to boarding school at the age of eight, hoping that it would knock some sense into me."

In her tribute to him, Kate Bush said: "To call him a mime artist is like calling Mozart a pianist. He was very brave, very funny and above all, astonishingly inspirational." Bush later wrote the song “Moving”, which appeared on her debut album The Kick Inside, as a tribute to Kemp.  

We consider Kemp a Groovalutionary because even though he had been an artist from the beginning of his life, his art wasn't always accepted or understood, and he persisted. Gestures big and small can carry on into peoples’ lives. If you are a creative, you’re probably very in tuned with the styles of drawing, writing, dancing or even fashion that have affected your vision. It’s very likely that you could be inspiring someone right now too.

Ultimately, Lindsay Kemp’s creative voice, though not received immediately by the mainstream, is arguably a creative who’s energy has pushed us all towards fuller, forward expression.

Written by: Mark Thomopoulos