News: Sadler's Wells marks Sylvie Guillem's final performances

Wednesday 27 May 2015 by Carmel Smith

Photo: Alastair Muir.

In the week of Sylvie Guillem’s final performances on the Sadler’s Wells stage, the theatre has given her the title of Associate Artist Emeritus – a title which will come into effect in January 2016.

A dancer renowned the world over, Guillem has been an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells since 2006. She announced her retirement from the stage in November 2014, and Sadler’s Wells is touring her final dance production Life in Progress nationally and internationally throughout 2015. The production’s UK premiere is at Sadler’s Wells this week ( 25 – 31 May).

“Sylvie Guillem has had an extraordinary career encompassing both classical ballet and contemporary dance,” said Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and CEO. “This week marks a poignant moment in Sadler’s Wells’ recent history, as she makes her final dance performances on our stage after 11 hugely rich years of working together. Next month marks the anniversary of her appointment as an Associate Artist here, and her first commissioned work for us, PUSH was our very first in-house production – a thrilling debut which has been followed by some of the greatest evenings we have experienced at Sadler’s Wells. The title of Associate Artist Emeritus, is therefore a celebration of the wonderful contribution she has made to the world of dance, and an expression of our appreciation for her incredible artistry.”

Life in Progress features both existing and new works by choreographers who have influenced Guillem’s contemporary career. The new works include a solo by choreographer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Akram Khan. He says of technê: “The dancer’s body carries the memory of all the lives it has described. It gives itself away in the moment of performance, so that as soon as each image is created, it is shed, and exists only in memory. So is art then the memory of movement, and of being moved?” technê has lighting by Adam Carrée and Lucy Carter.

Guillem also performs a pas de deux with Italian dancer Emanuela Montanari from La Scala, choreographed and directed by Russell Maliphant with lighting by Michael Hulls, both of whom are Associate Artists at Sadler’s Wells, who choreographed and lit the award-winning PUSH. In the piece, Here & After, Maliphant acknowledges his past works and experiences with Sylvie, whilst moving on and exploring a vocabulary that shows contrast, with a female duet partnership

Life in Progress also features Mats Ek’s touching and poignant solo, Bye, which was made especially for Guillem and has been performed previously as part of the 6000 miles away programme, and William Forsythe’s Duo (performed by Brigel Gjoka and Riley Watts), which premiered in 1996.

Earlier this year Sylvie Guillem was presented with a Special Olivier Award by the Society of London Theatre, honouring her extraordinary 39 year performing career. Accepting the award, presented by one time Royal Ballet Director Sir Anthony Dowell on the stage of the Royal Opera House, where she danced for so many years with the Royal Ballet, Sylvie Guillem said: “I never had this opportunity to thank the audience. You were always there, always warm, passionate – I’m going to miss you… I’m going to be a retired ballerina and I’m quite furious about it. But it’s my decision. It was 39 years of pleasure. Thank you.”

Life in Progress, produced by Sadler’s Wells, opened in Modena, Italy, on 31 March 2015. It tours worldwide until its final performances in Tokyo in December 2015. In addition to the UK performances at Sadler’s Wells this week, there are dates at the London Coliseum (Tue 28 July – Sun 2 August), Edinburgh International Festival (Festival Theatre, Sat 8 – Mon 10 August), with Sylvie Guillem’s final UK performances at Birmingham Hippodrome (Tue 8 & Wed 9 September 2015).

29, 30 & 31 May (sold out – return tickets only)

Photo: Sylie Guillem at the curtain call of Life in Progress at Sadler’s Wells this week, by Alastair Muir.

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