#TBT: Sylvie Guillem and Éric Vu-An in "Mouvement, Rythme, Étude" (1985)

August 12, 2020

Sylvie Guillem and Éric Vu-An, two former leading dancers with the Paris Opéra Ballet, were both muses to Maurice Béjart. The boundary-pushing choreographer created several roles for each of them throughout their careers, including the 1985 duet “Mouvement, Rythme, Étude,” when Guillem was just 20-years old and Vu-An just 21. In this excerpt from the ballet, the pair juxtapose technical brilliance and finesse with Béjart’s playfully absurd post-modern movement.

Set to a staccato, electronic score by Pierre Henry, the abstract piece leaves interpretation up to the imagination (in my mind, the dancers are hyper-realistic robots attempting to learn a pas de deux). One of the coolest moments in this clip is at 1:34, when Guillem extends her leg into arabesque but then twists her hips and legs in a sort of tango with Vu-An as he promenades her. She slips back into her arabesque and Vu-An chassés around her as she stays perfectly balanced on pointe. Throughout the piece, Béjart incorporates the dancers’ gifts, like Vu-An’s wicked ballon and Guillem’s extension, in cheeky ways. At 2:09, Guillem tucks her foot under Vu-An’s chin and flicks his head backward as she kicks her leg up to her ear. In all its idiosyncratic glory, this performance is sure to mesmerize you. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!