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Sylvie Guillem Performing Mats Ek’s “Wet Woman”….

October 25, 2015

In some of Mat Ek’s former choreographies, the traditions of Kurt Jooss and of his mother, Birgit Cullberg may be apparent. He uses classical as well as modern dance techniques. Social engagement of psychological dilemmas combined with subtle humor, form the basis of his choreographies. For Ek, movement is a means of individual expression. Aesthetic value is not his first priority.


In 1983 Ms. Guillem won the gold medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition, which later in the year earned her her first solo role, dancing the Queen of the Dryads in Rudolf Nureyev‘s staging of Don Quixote. In December 1984, after her performance in Nureyev’s Swan Lake, she became the Paris Opera Ballet’s youngest-ever étoile, the company’s top-ranking female dancer.[3] In 1987 she performed the lead role in William Forsythe‘s contemporary ballet In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated with one of her favorite partners, Laurent Hilaire.

Sylvie Guillem from French Vogue 1981

Sylvie Guillem from French Vogue 1981

In 1988 she was given the title role in a production of Giselle staged by the Royal Ballet to celebrate Nureyev’s 50th birthday. Her performance was a success, and in the following year she left Paris for London, to become a freelance performer and one of the Royal Ballet’s principal guest artists. Her desire to work independently from a company gained her the nickname “Mademoiselle Non”. In 1995 Ms. Guillem created the dance television program, Evidentia, which won several international awards. In 1998 she staged her own version of Giselle for the Finnish National Ballet, and in 2001 restaged the ballet for La Scala Ballet in Milan.

 Sylvie Guillem performs "Techné" in Life in Progress Photo: Bill Cooper

Sylvie Guillem performs “Techné” in Life in Progress Photo: Bill Cooper

In 2001 she became the first winner of the Nijinsky Prize for the world’s best ballerina, although in her acceptance speech she criticised the “supermarket culture” of such awards. In the same year, she controversially appeared nude and without make-up in a photo-shoot for French Vogue. In 2003 she directed the central section of a Nureyev tribute program, but was criticised for having the dancers perform in front of a giant projected backdrop of Nureyev, which the audience found distracting. By 2006 she had moved from ballet to contemporary dance, working with such performers as Akram Khan as an Associate Artist of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, England.


From → Dance History, Video

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