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Sylvie Guillem



Sylvie Guillem in action.
Sylvie Guillem in Marguerite and Armand, The Royal Ballet © Bill Cooper

French dancer Sylvie Guillem is one of the most acclaimed dancers of her generation. She was a Principal Guest Artist of The Royal Ballet 1988–2007, winning worldwide renown for her performances in classical, dramatic and contemporary repertories both with the Company and as a guest artist with companies around the world. She was made an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells in 2006 and has forged rich creative relationships with many of the world’s leading contemporary choreographers, including Mats Ek, William Forsythe, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt.

Guillem was born in Paris and trained as a gymnast before joining the Paris Opera Ballet School aged 11. She entered the company aged 16 and aged 19 was made an étoile by Rudolf Nureyev, and that year joined The Royal Ballet. Her repertory with the Company included Marguerite, Cinderella, Giselle, Manon and Juliet, in addition to many role creations.

Guillem was made a Commandeur des Arts et Lettres in 1988, a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1994 and a CBE in 2003, among many other accolades. Guillem works extensively as an ecological activist and sits on the advisory board of the charity Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which is dedicated to protecting ocean wildlife.

News and features

New look: the living history of Marguerite and Armand’s designs

7 June 2017
New look: the living history of <em>Marguerite and Armand</em>’s designs

Dresses worn by Margot Fonteyn and Sylvie Guillem reveal how every element of a ballet is carefully re-assessed for each revival.

How Fonteyn and Nureyev's electric partnership turned Marguerite and Armand into a ballet icon

24 May 2017
How Fonteyn and Nureyev's electric partnership turned <em>Marguerite and Armand</em> into a ballet icon

The pair's unique chemistry elevated Ashton's ballet to the point it became sacred to other dancers – only recently has that begun to change.

Debate: Is ballet an art form or a sport?

23 August 2016
Debate: Is ballet an art form or a sport?

Combining extreme physical exertion with grace, beauty and subtle interpretation: are dancers athletes or artists?