Sylvie Guillem

Сильви Гиллем

Ballet dancer


Sylvie Guillem was destined to become a gymnast. Her goal was to join the French Olympic team for rhythmic gymnastics, and under the guidance of her mother, a coach in this sport, she confidently, though not too enthusiastically, pursued her ambition. With a high probability, she would have been among the athletes who traveled to the 1980 Moscow Olympics. But life had different plans. While Sylvie didn't initially love dancing, the gymnasts' training program included an internship at the Paris Opera Ballet School. This was the turning point in her life at the age of 11. At first, dance did not attract her much, but one day she had the chance to perform on stage - costume, makeup, spotlight, and the rise of the curtain... Her fate was sealed.

While still a student at the ballet school, Sylvie participated in performances at the Paris Opera, and upon graduation, as customary, she was accepted into the corps de ballet, which was managed by Rudolf Nureyev at that time. Recognizing her incredible talent and disapproving of rigid rules, Nureyev appointed her an étoile - an unthinkable feat for a hierarchical company, at only 19 years old!

In a way, Guillem followed the path of her mentor. She had it all, but she wanted freedom. The Paris Opera was a strictly regimented place where you belonged to your company, with no freedom for tours or repertoire choices. Guillem requested the status of a "guest star," but her request was denied. Consequently, she resigned from the Paris Opera and moved to London to dance. The French culture was so shaken by her departure that even the Minister of Culture was summoned to the National Assembly to explain her departure.

Guillem went her own way, dancing on the world's best stages, working with Ek, Maliphant, Forsythe, Khan, Béjart, and starring in a dramatic piece set on her by Lepage. She introduced the trend of 180-degree battements - the famous Six o’clock - which many have attempted to replicate since, infuriating conservative balletomanes and school instructors. However, few can make it look as organic as she did. She gained the nickname "Mademoiselle No" and lived up to it by choosing her roles, partners, choreographers, and social circle. She declined photographers, journalists, and benefactors. However, she was always extremely tough on herself. After deciding to retire, she took her final bow on stage and never returned. Thus, she remained an unattainable pinnacle - known as Sylvie Guillem.