Gillian Lynne was born in 1926 in Bromley, Kent, England. Gillian Lynne danced the Swan Queen in Swan Lake at the People's Palace, Mile End Road aged 16 and was seen by Ninette de Valois. She entered Sadler's Wells Ballet aged 17 and rose through the ranks to become a leading dancer. Her roles included: Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, one of three ballerinas in Symphonic Variations, Queen of the Willis in Giselle, Daughter in Job, Black Ballerina in Balanchines Ballet Imperial, Black Queen in de Valois Checkmate. Roles were especially created and written for her in Helpmann's Adam Zero, and as the Young Lover in Miracle in the Gorbals.
Leaving Sadler's Wells Ballet in 1951 she was an instant success at the London Palladium as the star dancer and subsequently in the West End in such roles as Claudine in Can Can at the Coliseum Theatre and on film as Mariane in The Master of Ballantrae, in which she was cast opposite Errol Flynn and directed by William Keighley and appeared as both dancer and actress on early British Television.
In her long career as a choreographer and director, she has worked on many productions including those from the Royal Opera House, Royal Shakespeare Company and English National Opera as well as many West End and Broadway shows. She is perhaps best known for her work on the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and Aspects of Love. She is also a prolific television choreographer and director notably for The Muppet Show series and winning the 1987 BAFTA Huw Wheldon Award for her direction and choreography of A Simple Man starring Moira Shearer.