Iconic Parts by Sylvie Guillem

Iconic Parts by Sylvie Guillem

On the occasion of Sylvie Guillem’s birthday on February 25, Anastasia Isaeva, an expert of the IngoDance portal, would like to talk about the brightest parts of the great French ballerina.

Sylvie Guillem is a world star, Knight of the Legion of Honor, holder of the National Order of Merit, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and these are not all of her awards. Guillem’s name has long become an appellation and made it into the modern history of ballet.

She received the highest title of the Paris Opera - "etoile" - at a record early age of 19. This was the second case of such a rapid ascent up the career ladder in the entire history of the theater. Sylvie was awarded immediately after the performance of Swan Lake, in which she danced the main role. To this day, her performance is considered one of the best. Thanks in no small part to her incredible physique: elongated proportions, x-shaped legs (this is especially evident in the ecarte poses, in which her legs are bent crescent-like), high arches and technical equipment. In the part of Odette-Odile, all poses - attitude, arabesque, ecarte and others - are executed perfectly. Her port de bras are connected by cantilena, and it feels like the ballerina has no bones, the movements of her arms seem so smooth.

Starting her career in one of the most famous theaters in the world - the Paris Opera, under the guidance of the equally famous dancer and director - Rudolf Nureyev, Sylvie Guillem danced almost the entire classical repertoire over time. Wishing to develop her international career and work in other dance styles and with new choreographers, she made a decision to leave the theater. It provoked a scandal: Guillem's quitting was called a "national catastrophe", and the Minister of Culture had to make a report on the matter at the special meeting of the French National Assembly.

After joining the Royal Ballet of Great Britain, Sylvie Guillem got an opportunity to perform not only the classics, but also dance in the ballets by Ashton, MacMillan, Robbins, and collaborate with William Forsythe. When you see Guillem in his ballets, it seems that her body was created specifically for such choreography - after all, Forsythe's productions never forgive inaccuracies and flaws. Starting with In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and ending with Rearray, she demonstrates a performance that makes you want to watch it over and over again. And this is not only because of the ideal form, but also because of the character that imbues her movements.

Sylvie Guillem went far beyond the classics in her creative work: her experiments with modern dance allowed many choreographers to discover new performing facets in the ballerina. For example, Carmen, Wet Woman, Smoke are only a small but noteworthy part of her work with the eminent choreographer Mats Ek.

And certainly, we should not forget the role of one of the brightest contemporary creators, Akram Khan, and the Sacred Monsters ballet in Guillem’s career.

We may say that in the case of Sylvie, all parts are iconic, since she is a ballerina assoluta. Her Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty really resembles an ideal princess, and every step in her part is well-thought-out. The part of Manon in the ballet of the same name by Kenneth MacMillan can leave few people indifferent thanks to the emotional intensity of passions in duets, combined with the aesthetics of lines and poses.

Unfortunately, Sylvie Guillem has ended her career, and now her performances can only be watched on video, but her exceptional talent is evident even through the screen.