Admittedly, journalist pre-lim exams and general end-of-course mayhem has caused me to neglect my blogging as of late, but when I read the glowing reviews of Guillem’s latest performance, I couldn’t help but pay her some respect.
For those who are unfamiliar with Guillem, here is a mini bio. Discovered by the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet School at the mere age of 11, Guillem traveled up the ranks to become one of their most acclaimed principal dancers to date, being appointed the star roles in the great classical ballets by the age of 19, at the request of the legendary choreographer Rudolph Nureyev.
Since then, Guillem has danced with the great companies of the globe, including the Royal Ballet, the Kirov, the Tokyo Ballet, Australian Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre and La Scala. From 1998, Guillem limited her performances to guest appearances, as well as directing and choreographing her own pieces, and branching out into contemporary dance. She was awarded a CBE in 2003.
Guillem in rehearsal for Don Quixote in Paris. Video: jolicrasseux on YouTube
6000 Miles Away is the product of Guillem’s latest endeavours. Devised and performed by hers truly, the programme features three pieces created by three of the world’s leading contemporary choreographers: Mats Ek, William Forsythe, and Jiří Kylián. The weekend performances received glowing reviews from the nationals, described as “scintillating” by the Telegraph’s Sarah Crompton, and receiving top-end critical acclaim from the Guardian’s Judith Mackrell and the Observer’s Luke Jennings.
Despite the choreography being to the highest standard, there was one thing which shone through each and every review: Guillem’s defiance of the common conception that a dancing career dies aged 40.
At the age of 46, Guillem is in perfect dancing condition, from the tip of her delicate fingers to her battered, yet enviable, feet. And she remains an inspiration to every dancer, from novices to professionals. So for those who were thinking of hanging up their pointe shoes for good, take Sylvie’s message into account: you’re only as young as you feel.