’She just wanted to dance…’

At school she was considered a lost cause. One day her parents received a note saying: this girl has a learning disorder, she cannot concentrate, always fidgets, disrupts the class, turns in her homework after the deadline… Nowadays the doctors would say that she has an attention deficit disorder, but in the 1930s no one had heard of this diagnosis.

Her parents took her to the doctor, who put her in a chair at the far end of the room where she sat for twenty minutes with her hands under her thighs while the doctor and her mother were discussing her problems at school. Finally, the doctor sat down next to her and said that he would like to talk to her mother privately. He asked the girl to wait in the office, and he left with her mother. Before leaving, he turned on a radio that was standing on the table.

Then the doctor asked the mother to come to the door quietly and take a peek at what her daughter was doing. The girl immediately jumped to her feet and started moving to the music. The doctor turned to her mother and said, ’She’s not sick. She’s a dancer. Send her to a dance class.’

The mother followed the doctor’s advice: the girl began attending dance classes. She was accepted to the Royal Ballet School, where she became a soloist. Some time later she founded her own dance company. She met Andrew Lloyd Webber, and together they made one of the most famous choreographies in history. She brought joy to millions of people and became a multimillionaire.

And now such children are often simply put on medication.

This is the story of Gillian Lynne, an outstanding contemporary choreographer, dance experimenter, actress, and director. During her creative life she put on several dozen shows, operas, ballets, and musicals, including the legendary ’Cats’ and ’The Phantom of the Opera,’ and she won countless awards.

This story was told by Ken Robinson, a Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick and the international adviser on the development of creative thinking, education systems, and innovation in the state and public organizations.

photo credit: Maksim Fesenko

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