Bowie and Kemp had a brief relationship, and Bowie continued to work with the innovative choreographer after the relationship ended, notably on the Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars tour in 1972.
In later years, Kemp moved to Italy, where he produced several operas.
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.
He met Bowie in 1966 after one of Kemp's shows at Covent Gardens, and Bowie went on to perform in his show "Pierrot in Turquoise."
He was born near Liverpool in 1938 and "realized that I wanted to dance when I first realized anything at all," he said. Kemp studied dance with Hilde Holger and mime with Marcel Marceau after being introduced to the art world through studying with painter David Hockney.
Kate Bush also studied mime with Kemp, who went on to appear in her short film "The Line, the Cross and the Curve." Bush's song "Moving" was written as a tribute to her teacher.
He was 80. British choreographer, mime and David Bowie mentor Lindsay Kemp died Saturday morning in Livorno, Italy.
Kemp formed his own dance company in the 1960s, and found fame in 1974 when he brought his show "Flowers," based on Jean Genet’s "Notre Dame des Fleurs," to the Edinburgh festival.
He appeared in Derek Jarman's films "Sebastiane" and "Jubilee" and in "The Wicker Man" and "Velvet Goldmine."