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Sylvie Guillem

Black and white photograph of Sylvie Guillem doing archery
Born in Paris, Sylvie Guillem began as a gymnast with Olympic hopes, but at 11 when she and her group attended the Paris Opera’s ballet school for polishing, she switched ambitions. Joining the Paris Company at 16, she raced up the hierarchy. Rudolf Nureyev, appointed Artistic Director of the company as she began her third year, gave her a small role in his debut production, Raymonda, and then in December 1984, when Sylvie was 19, Nureyev appointed her étoile, star dancer.

Over the next few years, many visiting choreographers including William Forsythe, Bob Wilson and Maurice Béjart put Guillem into their creations but in 1988 she resigned and made London her main base, with a guest contract at The Royal Ballet. For The Royal Ballet, she danced Principal roles in Ashton’s Cinderella, Marguerite and Armand, A Month in the Country, MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Manon, Winter Dreams, Mats Ek’s Carmen and Robbins’ The Concert as well as the classic roles.

For the present, Guillem favours collaborations with modern choreographers and theatre directors. In December 2003, she collaborated with Michael Nunn, William Trevitt and Russell Maliphant on Broken Fall. This in turn led to a second Maliphant season in 2005, with two premieres including a solo for Guillem and PUSH, a pas de deux with Russell Maliphant. In 2006, she collaborated with Akram Khan on Sacred Monsters and in 2009 with Robert Lepage and Russell Maliphant on a theatre/dance project Eonnagata.

Guillem is a highly decorated artist and her awards include the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, Officier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite, Officier des Arts et Lettres and in Britain, an honorary CBE.


Gilles Tapie

Why did you choose the photographer you worked with?

He is my husband!

What was it that you wanted to express about yourself? Why this photograph and composition?

Archery is one of my hobbies and it shares so many values I believe in: serenity, concentration, search of perfection, repetition, beauty of the gesture, simplicity and strength.

Black and white photograph of Sylvie Guillem doing archery
Sylvie Guillem © Gilles Tapie