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Lindsay Kemp, choreographer and Bowie mentor, dies at 80

Image caption 'I did show him how to do it' – Lindsay Kemp on David Bowie

Lindsay Kemp, the ground-breaking dancer and choreographer who inspired David Bowie, has died at the age of 80.

Kemp was known to pop fans for helping Bowie create his Ziggy Stardust persona and teaching Kate Bush to dance.

Director Nendie Pinto-Duschinsky, who was making a documentary about Kemp, told BBC News that he was "a force of nature" and still working until his death in Livorno, Italy.

His spectacular productions combined mime, dance, theatre and cabaret.

'Born dancing'

Kemp was also known for his film cameos, appearing as a pub landlord in The Wicker Man in 1973 and as a pantomime dame in the film Velvet Goldmine in 1998.

Born in 1938 near Liverpool, Kemp grew up in South Shields and quickly discovered a vocation in dance.

"I realised that I wanted to dance when I first realised anything at all. I was born dancing," he said.

"For me dancing has always been a shortcut to happiness."

He first saw Ballet Rambert perform at the age of 17 and soon after hitchhiked to London to audition.

He won a scholarship, but needed to complete his military service first.

Kemp told BBC Newsnight in 2016: "I had a fairly tough time in the Air Force, because I didn't march… I danced."

He studied under expressionist dancer Hilde Holger and French mime Marcel Marceau before forming his own dance company in the 1960s.

Inspiring

In 1966, Kemp met David Bowie after a performance in Covent Garden when the singer was 19.

"He came to my dressing room and he was like the archangel Gabriel standing there, I was like Mary," he said.

"It was love at first sight."

Bowie became his student and his lover, performing in Kemp's show, Pierrot in Turquoise and gaining the theatrical inspiration for Ziggy Stardust.

"He was certainly multi-faceted, a chameleon, splendid, inspiring, a genius of a creature. But I did show him how to do it," Kemp said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lindsay Kemp performing as Salome in Toronto in 1978

He also taught Kate Bush to dance, describing her as a shy performer who nevertheless was "dynamic" when she began to move.

The singer later dedicated the song Moving to him, pushing a copy under the door of his London flat.

Kemp said: "It was a very moving experience, because I didn't know she was a singer."

He made his mark on the world of modern dance with shows such as Cruel Garden, a collaboration with Christopher Bruce at Ballet Rambert.

An original

Celebrities paid their respects on Twitter, with comedian Julian Clary writing: "Rest in Peace Lindsay."

Doctor Who actor Barnaby Edwards described Kemp as an "absolute delight".

"The world will be less fun and less naughty without him," he added.

The actor and Bowie expert Nicholas Pegg shared a photo of himself on stage with the singer Marc Almond and Kemp, whom he called "one of life's originals".

Skip Twitter post by @NicholasPegg

Lindsay Kemp was one of life’s originals. An artist to the tips of his fingers, a mentor and inspiration for titans like David Bowie and Kate Bush, a prodigiously talented performer, and a truly delightful man. In 2016 @MarcAlmond and I had the honour of sharing a stage with him. pic.twitter.com/YFg2GSUtV5

— Nicholas Pegg (@NicholasPegg) August 25, 2018

Report

End of Twitter post by @NicholasPegg

Ms Pinto-Duschinsky said Kemp had been rehearsing with students, preparing for a tour and writing his memoirs before his death on Saturday morning.

"We always forgot that Lindsay was 80 – it doesn't seem like that when someone is so charismatic, so full of life and such a force of nature really," she said.

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California fires: Winds propel fires as death toll rises

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Media captionCalifornia wildfires continue to rage

Strong winds have been fuelling California's deadly fires as search-and-rescue teams begin the grim task of searching for bodies among the ashes.

Winds of up to 40mph (64km/h) are expected throughout Tuesday in the state's south, where the Woolsey Fire is threatening some 57,000 homes.

Firefighters in the north are still battling the Camp Fire, which has left at least 42 people dead.

Meanwhile, two new fires began in the south on Monday.

They started within minutes of each other. The smaller of the two has since been put out, news agency Reuters reports.

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In the north, the Camp Fire, which has destroyed more than 7,600 homes, surpassed the 1933 Griffith Park disaster to become the deadliest in California's history after 13 more bodies were found, bringing the total killed to 42. The earlier tragedy left 31 dead.

Many more people are said to be unaccounted for, with coroner-led search teams preparing to comb the largely incinerated town of Paradise on Tuesday.

Three portable morgues, specialist dog units, forensic anthropologists and a "disaster mortuary" have been requested to help with the operation, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told reporters on Monday.

Further south, the Woolsey Fire has so far killed two people as it damaged beach resorts including Malibu, a favourite with the rich and famous – bringing the state-wide death toll to 44.

Around 9,000 firefighters have been tackling the fires, with 16 other states sending crew and resources to help.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many of the town's 26,000 residents have had their homes devastated

More than 300,000 locals have been forced to flee their homes across California.

US President Donald Trump has declared a "major disaster" in the state, making federal aid available to affected residents.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the wildfires.

What's the latest on the Camp Fire?

Paradise and its surrounding areas bore the brunt of the Camp Fire – the largest blaze – which started in a nearby forest on Thursday.

Some bodies were found in gutted cars that were overrun by the fast-moving fire, as residents scrambled to evacuate overnight.

Sorrell Bobrink, a Paradise resident who managed to drive away with her child, told BBC World Service radio she was first woken up and alerted by a phone call from a friend.

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Media captionParadise resident Sorrell Bobrink describes 'apocalyptic' scenes

She described the scene as "exactly like any apocalyptic movie I have ever seen" and said she did not know if she was driving towards death or out of harm's way as the sky blackened.

"I had to drive through the fire – it was awful. It was probably the most awful experience I will have in my life," she told the Newsday programme.

"It was traumatising, we will be traumatised for a long time. My whole community was traumatised – I can't watch the videos anymore because I actually went through it."

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Many of the victims are believed to have been elderly residents or people with mobility issues who would find evacuating more difficult.

Forensic experts are stepping up their search in the ruins of Paradise, but officials warn that finding the bodies could take weeks.

Dogs are being brought in by local police to try and locate the dead, and two mobile army morgues will be used to help identify them.

The fire has burned around 125,000 acres (50,500 hectares) and is about 30% contained, fire officials said.

What about further south?

The separate Woolsey Blaze started on Thursday near Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles (64km) north-west of central Los Angeles.

It has consumed nearly 94,000 acres and destroyed around 435 buildings, officials said. It is around 35% contained, up slightly from earlier in the day. The smaller Hill Fire, nearby, has scorched 4,530 acres and is reportedly about 90% contained.

Luxury homes in Malibu and other beach communities are among the properties destroyed.

The nearby city of Calabasas, home to well-known celebrities, remains under a mandatory evacuation order.

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Why are the fires so bad?

Historically, California's "wildfire season" started in summer and ran into early autumn, but experts have warned that the risk is now year-round.

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Media captionWith wildfires occurring across the globe, here are some of the techniques used to stop them

The California Public Utilities Commission is investigating what sparked the latest blazes – amid reports electrical companies may have suffered malfunctions near the sources shortly before the fires began.

Low humidity, warm Santa Ana winds, and dry ground after a rain-free month have produced a prime fire-spreading environment.

The state's 40-million-strong population also helps explain the fires' deadliness. That number is almost double what it was in the 1970s, and people are living closer to at-risk forest areas.

And then there's climate change. Recent years have produced record-breaking temperatures, earlier springs, and less reliable rainfall.

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Citing the role of a warming climate, California Governor Jerry Brown declared: "This is not the new normal, this is the new abnormal."

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