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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

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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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Man in Salisbury ‘illness’ hoaxed Prince Charles

Image copyright Instagram Anna Shapiro
Image caption A picture of the couple, posted on Ms Shapiro's Instagram account in 2015

The man who prompted a major incident in Salisbury after apparently falling ill in a restaurant – six months after a nerve agent attack in the city – once hoaxed Prince Charles.

Alex King, 42, was admitted to hospital on Sunday with his wife, after reports they became unwell in Prezzo.

Police sources have told the BBC a hoax is likely to be one line of inquiry, and that until the man had been spoken to "we can't rule anything in or out".

No arrests have been made.

On Tuesday, Mr King's wife, Anna Shapiro, 30, told the Sun that the Russian state had poisoned her and her husband.

The paper reported it was "what security sources fear was a suspected rat poison attack".

Ms Shapiro is a model and an Israeli citizen of Russian heritage.

A spokesman for the Sun told the BBC: "Like any newspaper, we were keen to talk to those at the centre of the incident and give them the opportunity to share with the public their version of events."

The BBC was unable to contact the couple.

Separately, Wiltshire Police said on Wednesday: "This is now a routine investigation.

"The woman from the restaurant has been interviewed once and is likely to be spoken to again. The next step is to speak to the man involved."

Wiltshire Police earlier confirmed the pair were not exposed to any nerve agent and that it was not linking their illness with the recent poisonings in Salisbury and Amesbury.

"Given recent events in Salisbury, the reporting of an event requiring the evacuation of bars and restaurants by police officers in bio-hazard suits, and that requires tests for the presence of Novichok, is of obvious public interest," a spokesman for the Sun added.

Salisbury District Hospital said "both patients are now medically fit" and have been discharged from hospital.

It is understood that the couple also tested negative for any other poisons, including rat poison.

Royal prank

In 2006 Mr King carried out a "prank" on the Prince of Wales at a film premiere.

He inserted himself into an official line-up of stars being greeted by Prince Charles and was later interviewed by the media about his deception.

He claimed the "prank" was carried out as part of a £100,000 bet with his employer – the convicted fraudster Edward Davenport.

In 2004, Mr King pleaded guilty at London's Horseferry Road Magistrates' Court to three counts of distributing indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children.

Negative results

In a statement on Wednesday, Lorna Wilkinson, director of nursing at Salisbury District Hospital, said "given recent events" they had tested Mr King and Ms Shapiro for nerve agents, when they were admitted on Sunday evening.

"Tests on both patients came back negative," she said. "Both patients are now medically fit and there is no need for them to be in hospital."

"While this incident did not involve nerve agents, it was still clearly very stressful for our staff who, once again, demonstrated the very best of the NHS.

"I want to thank them for rising to the occasion yet again," she added.

On 4 March, Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed in Salisbury having been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.

After weeks in hospital they were released, but in June, two Amesbury residents fell ill after being exposed to the same nerve agent. Dawn Sturgess, 44, later died.

The UK government has accused two Russian men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, of attempting to kill the Skripals.

But in an interview on a Russian state-run news channel, they claimed to be tourists. Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning.

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