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.
All the ballerinas of the Paris Opéra Ballet are renowned for their crystalline precision, honed in the company's notoriously rigorous school. But Isabelle Guérin, an étoile with POB from 1983 to 2001, set an especially high standard for technical purity. The slow, mournful pace of Nikiya's death scene from La Bayadère lets us luxuriate in her flawless lines. Here's a recording of that solo from a 1994 performance in Paris. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
Benjamin Millepied has been named as the next director of dance at the Paris Opéra Ballet. He will succeed current director Brigitte Lefèvre starting in October 2014. Although most of Millepied's career—as both a dancer with New York City Ballet and a freelance choreographer, notably for Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan—has so far been based in the United States, he is originally from Bordeaux, France. Nonetheless, the choice came as a surprise, since most people expected the company to select a candidate from inside their own ranks.
The Paris Opéra Ballet's American tour might be over, but they haven't completely abandoned us. On Sunday, August 5, movie theaters across the country will be showing POB's La Bayadère. This is no ordinary performance; it's Pointe cover girl Ludmila Pagliero's breakout as Gamzatti.
After making a splash in Chicago and DC, Paris Opéra Ballet has set up camp in New York's Lincoln Center for the next two weekends. Tonight, étoile Marie-Agnès Gillot performs the lead in Maurice Béjart's Bolero. In Pointe's April/May 2010 issue, we asked Gillot what skill she would most like to have. Her response?
"To control the weather, so that I can take care of people."