The iconic and ethereal dancer Sylvie Guillem has announced that she will retire at the end of 2015. Having begun as a classical ballet dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet and then becoming a principal with the Royal Ballet, the French ballerina turned contemporary dancer will be sorely missed by her audiences. Guillem joined the Paris Opera Ballet in 1981 where she was singled out by director Rudolf Nureyev: she was promoted to the top rank faster than any other dancer with the company.
Guillem chose to make the announcement through the Japan Performing Arts Foundation; her farewell performance will also be taking place in Japan, which will make it difficult for the rest of her international following to witness the scheduled farewell. Recently Guillem has performed solely contemporary works, creating works with esteemed choreographers such as Russell Maliphant, Akram Khan and many others.
Guillem is now 49 years old, however you would not know considering her fantastic technique and lithe body. Following a rather eventful career Guillem is one of the world’s most famous dancers. This is in part due to her fantastic legs and feet, but ultimately due to her impeccable performances and the artistry, expression and quality that comes as a result of her acclaimed performances. She is also an associate artist of Sadler’s Wells.
November this year will see Guillem dance in a revival of Sacred Monsters, a duet with Akram Khan at Sadler’s Wells, giving London audiences the chance to see Guillem in action once again. Despite this, it is fitting that Guillem’s performance will be in Japan as she feels a particular tie to the country: her 2011 show 6,000 miles away was named for the country to support the earthquakes and tsunami victims in the country.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.