John Gilpin
John Gilpin by Allan Warren
John Brian Gilpin

(1930-02-10)10 February 1930
Died5 September 1983(1983-09-05) (aged 53)
London, England
Resting placeChapel of Peace, Monaco
Occupation(s)Ballet dancer and actor
(m. 1960⁠–⁠1970)

John Brian Gilpin (10 February 1930 – 5 September 1983) was a leading English ballet dancer and actor.[1]

Life and career

John Brian Gilpin was the son of William John Gilpin (1903⁠–⁠1967) and Lilian May née Lendon (1902⁠–⁠1986). He had a twin brother, Anthony.[citation needed]

Gilpin started dance lessons at the age of seven, studying at the Arts Educational and Ballet Rambert schools.[2][1]

As a child he appeared in several West End stage successes and in films, such as They Were Sisters and The Years Between, opposite Michael Redgrave.[citation needed]

He won the Adeline Genée Gold Medal in 1943, the youngest winner to do so.[1]

Gilpin joined Ballet Rambert in 1945, becoming a principal.[1] He went with the company on their tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1947–49.[2]

He danced the 1949 season with Roland Petit's company, and the 1950 season with Le Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas in Monte Carlo.[2][1]

Gilpin was Principal Dancer of the London Festival Ballet for over twenty years from its inauguration in 1950 until leg injuries forced his retirement.[2][1] His performances in Le Spectre de la Rose and Giselle were particularly acclaimed.[3] Gilpin also guested with the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.[1] He created multiple roles, including The Sailor's Return in 1947, Le Rêve de Léonor in 1949, Esmeralda in 1954, and Variations for Four in 1957.[1]

Between 1965 and 1967 Gilpin served London Festival Ballet as its artistic director.[1]

Gilpin appeared in the play Invitation to the Dance by Maxim Mazumdar which was based on his life.[1] In 1981 he starred in Italy as Oberon in Lindsay Kemp's Midsummer Night's Dream.[1] In 1957, Gilpin won the Nijinsky Prize in Paris.[2] His partners included Danilova, Fonteyn, Markova, Sibley, Park, Seymour and Shearer.[2]

Gilpin was the recipient of several prizes: the Vaslav Nijinsky (1958), the Etoile d'Or (1964) and the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award for services to British Ballet (1963).[2]

In 1982 Gilpin published an autobiography, A Dance With Life.[1]

He was twice married:


He died from a heart attack, six weeks after marrying his second wife, Princess Antoinette, Baroness of Massy.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "John Gilpin". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Obituary for John Gilpin. Friends of Festival Ballet newsletter, Spring 1984, London.
  3. ^ a b Kisselgoff, Anna (6 September 1983). "JOHN GILPIN, 53, BALLET DANCER WITH LONDON FESTIVAL TROUPE". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 June 2022.