Gillian Lynne: ‘Digital age has eroded performer discipline’

Gillian Lynne. Photo: Greg Heisler
Gillian Lynne. Photo: Greg Heisler
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Choreographer and director Gillian Lynne has claimed that performers today are less disciplined than when she began her career and has blamed digital technology for the perceived lapse.

Speaking to The Stage, 88-year-old Lynne – who began her own career as a dancer in the 1940s – said that performers today were being distracted by computers and smartphones, which she said was affecting the quality of their work.

“When I started there were no gadgets or iPhones
or email – no phones like those which we all seem to live on and I fight against every minute. If you think about it, there was much less distraction in that way,” she said.

Speaking about her early days as a dancer, Lynne added: “We had only just come out of the war and the food was dreadful, so inevitably we were more disciplined.”

The choreographer, who this year will work with Birmingham Royal Ballet on a production of Miracle in the Gorbals, claimed teachers were tougher when she was starting out, adding that venues such as the London Palladium were “run with a rod of iron”.

“That has gone out of the window now and it’s because everybody can’t wait to get off and do their digital stuff,” she said. “When I was dancing, I came home, had dinner and was forced to practise. Nowadays that does not go on. They rush straight to their computers and iPad or to watch television.”