Hugh Morris Alleyne Skinner better known as ballet dancer Hugh Laing

Hugh Morris Alleyne Skinner (6th June 1911 – 10th May 1988) was born in Barbados to Donald and Beatrice Skinner and grew up in Strathclyde.  He would later change his stage name to Hugh Laing and be described as one of the most significant dramatic ballet dancers of the 20th century.  He was also an actor, appearing in Tristan and Isolda (1938), The Immortal Hour (1939) and Brigadoon (1954).

In 1931 aged twenty Hugh Skinner moved from Barbados to London to study art, but soon became interested in ballet. After taking ballet classes with Marie Rambert, Margaret Craske and Olga Preobrajenska, he joined Miss Rambert’s experimental Ballet Club in 1933, and it was there that he met Antony Tudor.

Laing accompanied Tudor to New York in 1939 to participate in the first season of Ballet Theatre, as the American Ballet Theatre was originally known.  Just as Tudor soon was recognised as a great choreographer, so Laing was hailed as one of the company’s finest artists.  He later embarked upon a new career as a commercial photographer in New York continuing to assist Tudor with re-stagings of his ballets.

Hugh Laing remained Antony Tudor’s artistic collaborator and companion until the choreographer’s death in 1987.  Their relationship was briefly interrupted by Laing’s unsuccessful marriage to ballerina Diana Adams  from 1947 to 1953 when the marriage was dissolved.

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If you can fill in some of the details of Hugh Skinner’s (Laing’s) early life in Barbados please contact BajanThings.  You can mouse over the image for the caption or click on the image to see a larger image with title and captions.

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