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“Life in Progress”: Sylvie Guillem Announces Her Retirement After Upcoming World Tour….

November 8, 2014
Sylvie Guillem in Mats Ek’s Bye at Sadler’s Wells in London, which is where her final performances in Britain will take place. Photograph: Robbie Jack/Corbis

Sylvie Guillem in Mats Ek’s Bye at Sadler’s Wells in London, which is where her final performances in Britain will take place. Photograph: Robbie Jack/Corbis

The Guardian has reported that Sylvie Guillem is ending her 39-year career after the end of her world tour. Ms. Guillem is recognized as one of the greatest Prima Ballerina’s of her generation. She was a Principal dancer with both Paris Opera Ballet and Royal Ballet will be retiring after her world tour. Ms. Guillem, who is 50, had supposedly gave a friend of hers a “license to kill” if she was to go on dance for too long. Ms. Guillem has stated she wanted to retire why she still had pride in her performance.

Friend Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet has tried to get the world renowned French Ballerina to change her mind. “She is such a gifted human being and it is a great loss for all of us,” she said. “Of course we don’t want her to stop; we want her to go on for ever. She said to me it had to happen at some point, why not now? To which I had many answers.”

Ms. Guillem, 42 at that time, told Julie Myerson in a 2008 interview “It would be nice to wake up and be able to walk to the bathroom,” referring to her extreme muscle stiffness each morning. But she says her stiffness isn’t much to do with age. Nearly every morning of her adult life has been like this, even when I was 20 and at the Paris Opera I had to crawl down the stairs; it is only when I start to work and stretch that my body begins to recover again.’

Alistair Spalding, chief executive and artistic director for Sadler’s Well, said: “She is the most significant ballerina of our time, no doubt about it. In the future, looking back, we’d say she was the one really. She is remarkable, a once-in-a-generation dancer.”

Recalling her training in Paris, where all the students were nicknamed “little rats” and obliged to bow to all teachers and dancers, Guillem said: “The dancers always seemed so solemn and aloof and whenever we were in a hurry they always seemed to appear out of nowhere, causing us to come to a skidding halt to take our bows. The very old floor, waxed and made slippery by skids from previous generations, made this task relatively dangerous.

“At full speed, we tried to hold, for at least half a second, the ‘bow’ – a genuflexion with arms stretched downwards in a V shape, palms down, back foot pointed behind the supporting leg. And, this done, off we went, trotting to the next class. These wobbling marks of respect were far from gracious, but for us it was a mission accomplished!”

Ms. Guillem’s world tour called Life in Progress will encapsulate her last performances. The tour begins in Modena, Italy, on 31 March, stopping at Sadler’s Wells in May and ending in Tokyo in December. It will include two new works by Akram Khan and Russell Maliphant as well as a solo piece written for her by Mats Ek, called Bye.

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From → Ballet, Dance

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