John Cranko
John Cyril Cranko was a choreographer with the Sadler's Wells Ballet (which later became the Royal Ballet
Royal Ballet, London
The Royal Ballet is an internationally renowned classical ballet company, based at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, England. The largest of the four major ballet companies in Great Britain, the Royal Ballet was founded in 1931 by Dame Ninette de Valois, it became the resident ballet...

) and the Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart Ballet was the first major German ballet company. It rose to fame in the 1960s under Artistic Director John Cranko. The company, which is renowned for presentations of full-length narrative ballets including Romeo and Juliet, Eugene Onegin, The Taming of the Shrew, John Neumeier's Die...


Cranko was born in Rustenburg in the former province of Transvaal
Transvaal Province
Transvaal Province was a province of the Union of South Africa from 1910 to 1961, and of its successor, the Republic of South Africa, from 1961 until the end of apartheid in 1994 when a new constitution subdivided it.-History:...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. As a child, he would put on puppet shows as a creative outlet. Cranko received his early ballet training in Cape Town under the leading South African ballet teacher and director, Dulcie Howes
Dulcie Howes
Dulcie Howes was a South African ballet dancer, considered the prima ballerina assoluta, in her time, of South African ballet. She was born in Mossel Bay, near Cape Town....

, of the University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.-History:The roots of...

 Ballet School. He then moved to London.

Following the expiration of the copyright on Arthur Sullivan
Arthur Sullivan
Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan MVO was an English composer of Irish and Italian ancestry. He is best known for his series of 14 operatic collaborations with the dramatist W. S. Gilbert, including such enduring works as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado...

's music in 1950, John Cranko choreographed the comic ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

 Pineapple Poll
Pineapple Poll
Pineapple Poll is a Gilbert and Sullivan-inspired comic ballet, created by choreographer John Cranko with arranger Sir Charles Mackerras. Pineapple Poll is based on "The Bumboat Woman's Story", one of W. S. Gilbert's Bab Ballads, written in 1870. The Gilbert and Sullivan opera H.M.S. Pinafore was...

, in collaboration with Charles Mackerras
Charles Mackerras
Sir Alan Charles Maclaurin Mackerras, AC, CH, CBE was an Australian conductor. He was an authority on the operas of Janáček and Mozart, and the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan...

, for a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

A festival or gala is an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival....

. Pineapple Poll was based on W. S. Gilbert
W. S. Gilbert
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert was an English dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator best known for his fourteen comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, of which the most famous include H.M.S...

's Bab Ballad
Bab Ballads
The Bab Ballads are a collection of light verse by W. S. Gilbert, illustrated with his own comic drawings. Gilbert wrote the Ballads before he became famous for his comic opera librettos with Arthur Sullivan...

 The Bumboat Woman's Story, with music exclusively by Sir Arthur Sullivan
Arthur Sullivan
Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan MVO was an English composer of Irish and Italian ancestry. He is best known for his series of 14 operatic collaborations with the dramatist W. S. Gilbert, including such enduring works as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado...

 including music from various Gilbert and Sullivan
Gilbert and Sullivan
Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian-era theatrical partnership of the librettist W. S. Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan . The two men collaborated on fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S...

 operettas. His father, Herbert, a balletomane, spent a great deal of time with him in London. Another collaboration with Mackerras followed with The Lady and the Fool
The Lady and the Fool
The Lady and the Fool is a comic ballet, created by choreographer John Cranko with lesser-known operatic music by Verdi arranged by Sir Charles Mackerras...


John Cranko wrote and developed a musical revue Cranks, which opened in London in December 1955, moved to a West End theatre the following March, and ran for over 220 performances. With music by John Addison
John Addison
John Mervyn Addison was a British composer best known for his film scores.Addison was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire and at the age of sixteen entered the Royal College of Music. He studied composition with Gordon Jacob, oboe with Léon Goossens, and clarinet with Frederick Thurston. ...

, its cast of four featured singers Anthony Newley
Anthony Newley
Anthony George Newley was an English actor, singer and songwriter. He enjoyed success as a performer in such diverse fields as rock and roll and stage and screen acting.-Early life:...

, Annie Ross
Annie Ross
Annie Ross is an English jazz singer, and actress, best known as a member of the trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.-Early years:...

, Hugh Bryant and dancer Gilbert Vernon then transferred to New York. An original cast CD has recently been released. Cranko followed the format of Cranks with a new revue New Cranks opening at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith on 26 April 1960 with music by David Lee and a stellar cast including Gillian Lynne
Gillian Lynne
Gillian Barbara Lynne , CBE, born , is a British ballerina, dancer, actor, theatre director, television director and choreographer noted for her popular theatre choreography associated with the iconic musicals Cats and the current longest running show in Broadway history, The Phantom of the Opera.-...

, Carole Shelley
Carole Shelley
Carole Shelley is an English actress. Among her many stage roles are the character of Madame Morrible in the original Broadway cast of the musical Wicked.-Life and career:...

 and Bernard Cribbins
Bernard Cribbins
Bernard Cribbins, OBE is an English character actor, voice-over artist and musical comedian with a career spanning over half a century who came to prominence in films in the 1960s, has been in work consistently since his professional debut in the mid 1950s, and as of 2010 is still an active...

, but it failed to have the same impact.

Cranko also choreographed the ballet Onegin, an adaptation of the verse novel Eugene Onegin
Eugene Onegin
Eugene Onegin is a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin.It is a classic of Russian literature, and its eponymous protagonist has served as the model for a number of Russian literary heroes . It was published in serial form between 1825 and 1832...

by Alexander Pushkin set to music by Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

 (mainly The Seasons
The Seasons (Tchaikovsky)
The Seasons, Op. 37a is a set of twelve short character pieces for solo piano by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Each piece is the characteristic of a different month of the year in the northern hemisphere. The work is also sometimes heard in orchestral and other arrangements by...

) orchestrated by Kurt-Heinz Stolze
Kurt-Heinz Stolze
Kurt-Heinz Stolze was a German pianist, harpsichordist and composer.He was born in Hamburg. He studed piano, organ and conducting at the Hamburg Conservatory with Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg. His first engagement was as repetiteur at the Royal Opera, Copenhagen. In 1957 he joined the Württemberg...

. Other full length ballets he choreographed are Romeo and Juliet, set to music by Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

 and The Taming of the Shrew.

Cranko choked to death after suffering an allergic reaction to a sleeping pill he took during a transatlantic flight. His mother, Grace, who was divorced from Herbert and lived in what was then Rhodesia
Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...

, heard about his death from a radio broadcast. The ballet Voluntaries by Glen Tetley
Glen Tetley
Glen Tetley was an American ballet and modern dancer as well as a choreographer who mixed ballet and modern dance to create a new way of looking at dance, and is best known for his piece Pierrot Lunaire.-Biography:Glenford Andrew Tetley, Jr. was born on February 3, 1926 in Cleveland, Ohio...

 was created in the memory of John Cranko.

External links

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