The iconic dancer and former prima ballerina – Sylvie Guillem, or Mademoiselle Non – will bow out from her career following a final UK tour of her production Life in Progress. In addition to the previously announced international tour, Sadler’s Wells will present the world renowned Guillem’s final dance programme at the London Coliseum, Edinburgh International Festival and Birmingham Hippodrome. Guillem will also be honoured with an Olivier Award ahead of her retirement, however it is rare that dancers stop dancing completely following announcements of this type.
The newly announced UK dates follow Guillem’s final performances at Sadler’s Wells, from 26–31 May 2015, where she has been an Associate Artist since 2006 and where she announced her retirement, from the stage in November 2014. Life in Progress receives its world premiere in Modena on 31 March 2015, and the final performance is in Tokyo in December 2015. In terms of her Olivier award, Guillem is the recipient of a special award at this year’s Oliviers, celebrating her achievements over the course of her career.
Life in Progress features both existing and new works by choreographers who have influenced her contemporary career. Guillem will perform a pas de deux with Italian dancer Emanuela Montanari from La Scala, choreographed and directed by Russell Maliphant with lighting by Michael Hulls. In the piece, Here & After, Maliphant acknowledges his past works and experiences with Guillem whilst moving on and exploring a vocabulary that shows contrast, with a female duet partnership. Existing works that feature are Mats Ek’s touching and poignant solo, Bye, which was made for Guillem, and William Forsythe’s Duo (performed by two male dancers), which premiered in 1996.
Guillem began training at the Paris Opera Ballet School aged 11, and has since performed all the leading roles of classical repertoire with companies including the Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Kirov, Tokyo Ballet, Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and La Scala, ahead of her contemporary career.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.