Sylvie Guillem

Happy New Year, ballet lovers! As we plunge into audition season, 2015 will bring an abundance of new challenges and opportunities. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by our New Year’s resolutions, but what better way to keep us inspired than a throwback of Sylvie Guillem? In our dreams we have her feet, her legs and her forever-motivating extensions. No doubt, she has helped push expectations for ballet dancers to new heights. That’s why 2015 arrives with a sense of closure and sadness. After an over three-decade long career, Guillem will retire at the end of the year. 

When dancers dream, they imagine having Sylvie Guillem’s arched feet, long limbs and impeccable ability to extend, accent and suspend any movement she desires. Her technical mastery and unique sense of artistry make her a choreographer’s dream as well. William Forsythe created In the middle, somewhat elevated on the Paris Opéra Ballet, where Guillem was an étiole, in 1987, a time when ballet was just emerging from the classical realm.

Before I even stepped in the theater last night, I knew I was biased. Sylvie Guillem was performing in 6000 miles away, a program of William Forsythe, Jirí Kylián and Mats Ek pieces, and although I'd never seen her in person before, videos and stories already had me convinced I'd love her. And I did. Guillem uses her limbs the way Van Gogh uses brushstrokes, Waugh uses words or Prokofiev notes. Her movement is so liquid, but she's in complete control at every moment—there's authority and specificity without looking arduous.