Accepting and Embracing the Mixture of Madness

Gillian-LynneAristotle famously said that, “there is no great genius without a mixture of madness;” and its true that the creative mind is often prone to experiences that modern society likes to categorize into mental illnesses.

In the case of dancer and choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne, that attempt to categorize and quell her mixture of madness came at an early age.

Lynne told NPR’s Sir Ken Robinson, “my mom – at the age, I think I was 7 – would take me to the doctor because she was at the end of her tether.”

Teachers thought that she had a learning disorder. In a note written home to her parents, they said, “her attention span is very bad. She cannot stop moving. We call her Wriggle Bottom.”

Her mother took her to a specialist who spent 20 minutes talking to her mother, all while watching her.

He was so astute, this man,” says Lynne, “he’d been noticing me and noticed that I was trying to take in 98 things when there were only 50 to take in and all of that.”

The doctor pulled her mother aside, turned on the radio, and said to her mother, “just stand and watch her.”

And the minute they’d gone,” says Lynne, “I leaped up. I leaped on his desk, I leaped off his desk. I danced all around the room. I had the most fabulous time. And he said – he immortalized; I really owe my whole career, in a way, and I suppose my life to this man – he said, there is nothing wrong with your child. She’s a born dancer.”

Of Lynne, Robinson says:

She became a soloist. She had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School, met Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s been responsible for some of the most successful theater productions in history. She’s given pleasure to millions and she’s a multimillionaire. Somebody else might’ve put her on medication and told her to calm down.


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