1 August 2015

Sylvie Guillem's Life in Progress at the London Coliseum

Sylvie Guillem's Life in Progress was her world-wide farewell and while it was sad to see her leave the stage after so many years it was also a worthy celebration of a great talent that still shone brightly.

I wanted to go because I have loved her dancing ever since I was a season ticket holder at the Royal Ballet in the late 80s. It was my last chance to see her and my last chance to say "thank you" by being there.

It was billed as a Sadler's Wells event but was staged at the London Coliseum, presumably because it was bigger. I surprised myself by being able to get a front row seat in the Balcony (the uppermost of four levels) for the bargain price of £20. I chose the seat not for the price but for the view, it was some distance from the stage but for dance (and opera) I prefer to be able to see the whole stage, not just the front of it.

I was not sure how much Sylvie I was going to see and was deliriously happy that she did so much. It was easy to forget that she was fifty years old, especially when she did her trade-marked vertical leg trick.

The performance was also pleasingly longer than I expected. Some dance that I have seen recently has been something like two 25 minutes half, understandable given the physical effort involved, so I was delighted to see four pieces.

The evening opened with a Sylvie solo performed with live musicians on stage half-hidden behind netting. It was poetically choreographed by Akram Khan. The next piece was strange, and I like strange, but was a duet with two men and I was there to see Sylvie. The third piece was a lovely duet with Sylvie and Emanuela Montanari, the first piece she had ever done with another woman. This was choreographed by Russell Maliphant so it was no surprise that I liked it.

After the break came the biggest and best surprise of the evening. Syvlie performed Mats Ek’s solo piece Bye which I had seen her do two years previously on her 6000 Miles Away tour. I loved it then and I loved it (at least) as much this time. It was a fitting end to a fantastic show and a glorious career.

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