Sylvie Guillem shines in Forsythe’s Steptext in Florence

Sylvie Guillem after SteptextVarious off-stage dramas lead up to ’s participation in MaggioDanza’s Great Choreographers programme. The second performance became the première after strike action cancelled Monday’s performance. Worth the wait? You bet!

Guillem danced in ’s Steptext, with pointe shoes and a bright red leotard. Nowhere to hide, with vertical and lateral lighting revealing every bone and muscle movement. Yes, her legs still travel effortlessly up to her ears, but Guillem’s dancing was always about so much more than that. The famous 6 o’clock position was natural for her, like her impish grin and beautiful feet. It was never a gymnastic position which is impressive… but so what? It is one of her many tools of expression.

Guillem doesn’t throw her leg up, but moves it up; it is motion that is judged and controlled. She moves her legs rather like an opera singer passes from note to note, with a portamento that varies from aria to aria depending on the context and mood. Guillem uses her body’s stunning capabilities to convey something, not to wow the audience by the mechanics of what it can do.

She is now 48, but nothing was less than it should have been. Three  first-class boys from the MaggioDanza company were with her, but Guillem comes from a different planet. In an evening plagued with technical problems (including an awful audio mishap at the beginning of ’s Sechs Tänze, caused by the same sound technicians who were responsable for the cancellation of the first night!), Guillem’s excellence shone like a beacon.

Sylvie Guillem after Steptext MaggioDanza


  1. Nakis says

    This was an extraordinary evening in every sense of the word. Though not an absolute adorer of Balanchine (I recognize his immense talent) “The four temperaments” is without doubt one of the great choreaographies of the XXth century in its complexity, strange beauty and rigor. I also loved Kyllian’s more theatrical, humorous, light and yet deep “Sechs Tânze”. As for Foniadakis’ “Les noces”, although the “least satisfying” piece of the evening, it was still quality work and this criticism has more to do with the inevitable comparison with the other giants of the evening (Guillem, Forsythe, Kyllian) than with Foniadakis unquestionable talent.
    As for “Steptext” what to say more? The piece in itself a great choreografy full of intelligence, sensitivity with great demands from the dancers who responded to the challenge triumphantly. Sylvie is in a category apart, one has no words to describe the genius, the intelligence, the beauty she radiates on stage. As you have so rightly underlined she just not lift her legs up, she moves them we see the movement, follow the transitions of her gestures, we feel, the variations of tempo and she executes each step with incomparable and natural skill, movement just flows naturally and beautifully. And she has that rare gift to impose herself on stage, one senses a mystery in her presence in her movements. She is fully there, she give herself totally and without concessions to her dancing and the audience, yet we feel that mystery. As in all great works of art, one can fully feel their beauty with awe, yet the mystery of the creation remains intact. One thinks of her incomparable Manon at La Scala, now “Steptext”, the extraordinary diversity of her repertory allowing her not just to interpret but to live fully to recreate the soul and philosophy of MacMillan, Forsythe or Mats Ek and add her own inimitable touch of creativity.
    What a shame indeed that somme irresponsible members of the MaggioDanza Compagny tried to spoil this moment with their irresponsible sbehaviour (strikes, luck of publicity for such an extraordinary event).

      • Nakis says

        Thank you.

        Well, Sylvie is my ultimate ideal for dance, I have never seen anyone who made such a strong impression on me. She is in Moscou now for “6000 miles away” at the Mossovet Theatre for the Chekhov International Fetsival and there they added two extra performances! I guess this could teach a lesson or two to the Maggio Fiorentino for failing to grasp the enormous luck they had when Sylvie accepted to do “Steptext” for them; My next show with her will be “Sacred Monsters” at the Theéâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris which runs from June 28th to June 30th;

        • says

          “they added two extra per­form­ances! I guess this could teach a les­son or two to the Mag­gio Fiorentino for fail­ing to grasp the enorm­ous luck they had when Sylvie accep­ted to do “Step­text”” – exactly!

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