It might be 39 years since Sylvie Guillem first skidded into the halls of the Paris Opera Ballet school, but the technical wizardry that saw her shoot up the ranks of the company will be no less in evidence on this, her farewell tour. Her trademark hyper-extension, perfectly arched feet and mesmerising stage presence make Sylvie Guillem, even at 50, one of the most captivating dancers on the European stage.
But if Guillem was technically perfect at 19, the rest of her legendary career has been anything but predictable. When ballet no longer satisfied her restless mind, she chose to explore new avenues in contemporary dance.
It is with the fruit of this exploration that she chooses to say goodbye in a global tour beginning in Italy and ending in Tokyo in December 2015. In between, she’ll be at London’s Sadler’s Wells in May, and the London Coliseum at the end of July.
Sadler's Wells Artistic Director and CEO Alistair Spalding said, "Tickets for Sylvie’s final performances at Sadler’s Wells sold out within five days. Since then, we have seen an unprecedented demand for tickets not just in London, but throughout the country. We are so pleased now to be able to offer more opportunities for people to see her."
Sylvie Guillem: choreography on the tour
In her farewell programme, Guillem presents new and established works from her favourite choreographers.
The first work created especially for this occasion will be a solo for Guillem by Akram Khan. Any new work from this Kathak dancer turned superstar choreographer is guaranteed to draw a crowd, but together the pair has already proven a winning formula. Guillem first got to grips with Khan’s rhythmic Kathak style in their 2006 collaboration Sacred Monsters.
Another new piece will be a pas-de-deux from the much-loved Russell Maliphant, to be danced with Emanuela Monanari of La Scala. Guillem first came across Maliphant while at the Royal Ballet, when she danced his piece Broken Fall, with the original BalletBoyz, William Trevitt and Michael Nunn. She became so enamoured of his work, she insistently sought an opportunity for a closer collaboration. The result was 2005’s PUSH, whose 5-star reviews celebrated the ‘extreme chemistry’ between the two. Maliphant’s carefully weighted, martial art-like movement keeps Guillem’s long limbs in fluid check, maintaining the sense of surprise when a leg slips easily by her ears.
The new pas-de-deux will be lit by Maliphant’s regular collaborator Michael Hulls, one of the most exciting (and most imitated) lighting designers working today.
Mats Ek & William Forsythe
Guillem's third piece is Mats Ek’s solo Bye, created three years ago for Guillem’s 6,000 Miles Away programme. On a portrait screen, a film of Guillem interacts with her onstage presence. Sometimes they move in unison, sometimes in an oddly distorted reflection. Guillem, deliberately dowdy in a cardigan and baggy skirt, delivers a deeply affecting, humorous and ultimately poignant performance.
Two male dancers, Brigel Gjoke and Riley Watts, will perform William Forsythe’s Duo. Guillem performed several of American Deconstructionist Forsythe’s works at the Royal Ballet, cutting an arresting figure in his In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated opposite Paris Opera star Laurence Hillaire. Duo, 1996, was originally performed by two female dancers, who slipped in and out of classical ballet lines to a piano crescendo. Transposing it to two male dancers means Guillem will leave the stage as she inhabited it: never side-stepping a challenge.
We shall miss her.
|What||Sylvie Guillem’s Farewell tour: ‘Life in Progress’, Sadler’s Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Roseberry Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
26 May 15 – 31 May 15, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
28 Jul 15 – 02 Aug 15, London Coliseum dates
|Website||Click here to go to Sadler's Wells website|