The name Sylvie Guillem became familiar to me when I lived in France. She started out at the Opera de Paris and then moved to London for the Royal Ballet. Sylvie is 48 today, and as strong and athletic yet graceful as ever. Everyone knowledgeable about classical dance wants to see her on stage. She is a strong beautiful swan. Not only that, but her personality and striking stage presence captivate even people who are sitting far away from the stage. She is the modern archetype of the classical dancer, as she moved from classical ballet to modern and experimental choreography.
Sylvie Guillem grew up as a future Olympic gymnast before she was noticed by Opera de Paris at the age of 11, with Nureyev making her an etoile at 19. In 1989 She left Paris for London, to become a freelance performer and one of the Royal Ballet’s principal guest artists. In 2001 Sylvie became the first winner of the Nijinsky Prize for the world’s best ballerina, although in her acceptance speech she criticized the “supermarket culture” of such awards. She is currently performing contemporary dance as an Associate Artist of London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre.
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