Featured Documentary - Sylvie Guillem

Sylvie Guillem (Official Full Documentary) | DANCE MASTERCLASS

May 2022


For the first time since her retirement, Guillem gives such an interview at her home, inviting Daniil Simkin to chat amongst olive trees, pastures, and her pets. She talks about her childhood, her relationship with Nureyev, and her experiences at the Paris Opera Ballet. She discusses her state of mind during her career and her current lifestyle.

Sylvie Guillem is one of the most acclaimed dancers in the history of the dance world. With her flexible and strong body, beautiful legs, and rich expressive power, she transformed the image of conventional female dancers. She revolutionized classical ballet, pioneering a new model of classical ballerina. At a time when contemporary and modern dance was not associated with classical ballet dancers, she took on new works one after another and became the multi-talented dancer as we know her today.



On training ballet in retirement:

I train because I feel good doing it. One day I do my barre, and the next day I do Pilates.

On following your intuition and not accepting a situation that doesn't feel right:

A long time ago when someone said to me, ‘So you’re going to leave Paris Opera....What are you going to do?’ ...I said, ‘Listen. We’ll see....If I can’t make it in dance, then I will go and do my garden.’

On nutrition:

I became vegan around 45, at the moment where normally the energy and the strength is going down, and I had more stamina.

On the privilege of getting paid to do what you love:

We are so lucky to do this. Very few people have the opportunity to go onstage and go in front of an audience and be treated like we are now....We have the studio. We have the clothing. We have the pointe shoes. We have money. We get paid for that. That’s a responsibility we have. ...If you don’t respect the work you are doing then leave....It’s a lack of respect for you, for the work you do, for dance, for the audience, and for the [dancers] who can’t get in [to world class professional companies].

On a dancer's role in changing society:

If you alone change, it’s not going to change the world....But someone needs to start. Someone needs to do it. ..It’s easy with a passion like we have to forget about the world. But the world exists and every action that you accomplish in your daily life is important and you need to be aware of that.

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