Guillem in Mats Ek's Bye. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy New York City Center.

Sylvie Guillem's Final Bow

This story originally appeared in the October/November 2015 issue of Pointe.

Legendary ballerina and contemporary dancer Sylvie Guillem will give the only U.S. run of her farewell tour, Life in Progress, November 12–14 at New York City Center. The extensive tour has already hit Italy, Poland, the UK, Greece, Russia, France, Spain, Australia and Taiwan. It will continue on to Austria before the final performances in Japan, in December.


Guillem will dance in three of the four works on the program. Akram Khan's new technê and Mats Ek's Bye are both solos for Guillem. La Scala soloist Emanuela Montanari will join her onstage in Russell Maliphant's Here & After (also a new work), while Brigel Gjoka and Riley Watts will perform William Forsythe's Duo—a testament to Guillem's appreciation of the choreographer's influence.

Guillem, who has made it clear that she will stop dancing while she still has pride in her artistry, has had a remarkable career spanning nearly 35 years. She will be 50 years old when she retires. She rocketed through the ranks at the Paris Opéra Ballet, and in 1984 Rudolf Nureyev appointed her, at age 19, to étoile. She went on to join The Royal Ballet as a principal guest artist and later transitioned into contemporary dance, developing collaborative partnerships with all of the choreographers featured in her farewell tour.

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