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. The title 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 from Monday 25 – Sunday 31 May 2015.
Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and CEO Alistair Spalding said: “Sylvie Guillem has had an extraordinary career encompassing both classical ballet and contemporary dance. 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. Titled technê, Kahn says of the piece: “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 of the theatre and 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.
Existing works that feature in Life in Progress are 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.
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. The tour includes UK performances at Sadler’s Wells (Monday 25 – Sunday 31 May), London Coliseum (Tuesday 28 July – Sunday 2 August), Edinburgh International Festival (Festival Theatre, Saturday 8 – Monday 10 August) and Birmingham Hippodrome (Tuesday 8 & Wednesday 9 September 2015).
Widely recognised as one of the world’s greatest dancers, Sylvie Guillem CBE, was born in Paris. As a child, she trained in gymnastics under the instruction of her mother, a gymnastics teacher. In 1977 aged 11, she began training at the Paris Opera Ballet School, and in 1981 joined the company’s corps de ballet. She was promoted to the rank of “Etoile” by Rudolf Nureyev at the age of 19. Since then she has performed all the leading roles of the classical repertoire with the world’s leading companies including The Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Kirov, Tokyo Ballet, Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and La Scala.
Her first contemporary performances at Sadler’s Wells were in 2004 for Broken Fall – the collaboration with fellow Sadler’s Wells Associate Artists Russell Maliphant, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. It was followed by the multi-award winning Sadler’s Wells production PUSH, which premiered at the theatre in 2005. She collaborated with celebrated dancer and choreographer, Akram Khan for Sacred Monsters, which premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 2006, the same year she became an Associate Artist there.
In 2009 she collaborated with Robert Lepage and Russell Maliphant for the Sadler’s Wells production Eonnagata, with costumes by Alexander McQueen. Most recently, she devised and performed in the 2011 Sadler’s Wells / Sylvie Guillem production 6000 miles away. It featured works by three of today’s most important choreographers; Mats Ek, William Forsythe, and Jiří Kylián. All the productions have toured internationally to full houses and critical acclaim.
Her awards include the Officier de la Légion d’Honneur, Commander dans l’Ordre National du Mérite, Officier des Arts et Lettres, and, in Britain, an honorary CBE. She is the only dancer to have been awarded a Leone D’Oro at Venice Biennale.
Life in Progress is a Sadler’s Wells Production, co-produced with Les Nuits de Fourvière and Sylvie Guillem
The Monument Trust supports co-productions and new commissions at Sadler’s Wells
Supported by Radisson, official hotel sponsor of Sadler’s Wells
Sylvie Guillem Circle of Support has supported the creation and touring of Life in Progress
Full details of the tour schedule can be found here
(feature image by Bill Cooper)