David Mead

Sylvie Guillem.  Photo © Gilles Tapie

Sylvie Guillem.
Photo © Gilles Tapie

Sylvie Guillem is to be honoured at the Olivier Awards 2015 next month when she receives a Special Award to mark her lifetime in dance. The Olivier Awards, run by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), take place on Sunday 12 April 2015. Highlights from the awards will be broadcast on ITV.

Having trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School from the age of 11, Guillem joined the company’s corps de ballet in 1981, going on to become the youngest ever top ranking dancer when she performed Swan Lake three years later. Her career then took her worldwide as she danced with The Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Kirov, Tokyo Ballet, Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and La Scala.

In 2004 she began working at Sadler’s Wells, collaborating with Associate Artists Russell Maliphant, Michael Nunn and the William Trevitt on the Olivier Award-winning Broken Fall. Her subsequent acclaimed work at the venue, of which she has been an Associate Artist since 2006, has included another Olivier winner, “PUSH”, “Sacred Monsters”, “Eonnagata” and “6000 Miles Away”.

2015 sees Guillem’s retirement from the stage with a final “Life In Progress” tour that features both existing and new works by choreographers who have influenced her contemporary career. The new works include a solo by choreographer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Akram Khan. Titled “techne”, Kahn says of the piece: “My work grows out of the questions I don’t know how to answer. I ask questions and tell stories through the body. I use technology to connect with more people, more often. But are we more connected now than we used to be? Or are we connecting with the technology itself rather than with people? No computer can answer this question. But perhaps the body can…”

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 two male dancers), which premiered in 1996.

“Life in Progress” tour dates:

31 March 2015: Teatro Communale, Modena, Italy

2 April 2015: Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome, Italy

15 & 16 May 2015: Lodz International Ballet Festival, Lodz, Poland

26 – 31 May 2015: Sadler’s Wells, London, UK

3 & 4 June 2015: Athens & Epidauras Festival, Athens, Greece

23 – 26 June 2015: Chekhov Festival, Moscow, Russia

29 June – 2 July 2015: Les Nuits de Fourvière, Lyon, France

5 July 2015: Genova Opera House, Genova, Italy

28 July – 2 August: London Coliseum, London, UK

8 – 10 August 2015: Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, UK

8 & 9 September 2015: Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham, UK

3 & 4 October 2015: National Theatre, Taipei, Taiwan

2 December 2015: Festspielhaus, St Polten, Austria

17 – 20 December 2015: NBS, Tokyo, Japan