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Sylvie Guillem to retire in 2015

Posted on August 15, 2014

sylvie guillem gilles tapie square

sylvie guillem gilles tapie squareSylvie Guillem has announced that she will retire at the end of 2015. The French ballerina made the announcement through the Japan Performing Arts Foundation, adding that her farewell performance is scheduled to take place in Japan.

“I will stop dancing in the end of 2015,” she said in a statement, adding, “This is all I can tell you now.” Now 49, Guillem is one of the world’s most famous dancers. She joined the Paris Opéra Ballet in 1981, where she was singled out by director Rudolf Nureyev, who promoted her to the top rank of étoile faster than any previous dancer. In 1987, she starred in William Forsythe’s In the middle, somewhat elevated.

Guillem left the Paris Opéra in 1989, becoming principal guest artist at The Royal Ballet. An intelligent and highly independent dancer, she chose her own roles and her own costumes, gaining the nickname “Mademoiselle Non”. More recently, she moved from ballet to contemporary dance, creating works with Russell Maliphant, Akram Khan and others. She is an associate artist of Sadler’s Wells.

Guillem feels a particular connection with Japan. Her 2011 show 6000 Miles Away was named for the country, with charity performances to support the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the country. In November, she will dance a revival of Sacred Monsters, her show with Akram Khan, at Sadler’s Wells. 


Photograph: Gilles Tapie



Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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