Dancing around the world, Sylvie notches up the miles

In her travels around the world, Sylvie Guillem will notch up many more miles than 6000 as she tours her current production as far afield as Beijing, Adelaide and Moscow.

The production, titled 6000 Miles Away, refers to Japan and the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country in March 2011. (The disasters occurred at the time as the dance work was in rehearsals in London).

The three-part show – comprising works by William Forsythe, Mats Ek and Jiri Kylian – is coming to Australia, not once but twice next year, first to the Adelaide Festival in early March and on to the Sydney Opera House, (8-15 March), and for the second time to the Melbourne Festival in October.

By the time 6000 Miles Away opens in Melbourne, almost two and a half years will has passed since its world premiere at Sadlers Wells Theatre in London. (Sadlers Wells was the co-producer).

Aged 47, Guillem’s stamina and arduous touring schedule is at least on a par with that of Anna Pavlova who kept up the pace of her journeys around the world in the 1920s when she was the same age. (At least Guillem can fly in and fly out, unlike Pavlova who settled briefly at home in Ivy House in London between long sea voyages and cross country train journeys).

This year, with three other dancers, Guillem took 6000 Miles Away to Lyon, New York, and Beijing and early next year, before it arrives in Australia, the production will be performed in Rome and at the Snape UK Dance East and Aldeburgh Music festival.

In May, it returns to Sadlers Wells before travelling to Perm and Moscow followed by two venues in France in July, then Singapore and Melbourne in October before a possible tour to Japan.

Judging from the reviews of New York and London seasons, it appears that the gem of the show is a duet by Forsythe titled Rearray.

In The Financial Times, Clement Crisp wrote how in Rearray, the “movement develops, changes character or direction in mid-phrase, goads academism into innovation, hints at emotion – and Guillem and Le Riche are its superlative exponents. Here is a developed classicism of fascinating implications and extreme difficulty, flawlessly done by superb artists perfectly attuned to Forsythe’s demands”.

Guillem originally danced Rearray with Paris Opera Ballet etoile, Nicolas Le Riche, but more recently her partner has been La Scala principal, Massimo Murru.

The other two works in 6000 Miles Away – Mats Ek’s Bye and Jiri Kylian’s 27’52” did not receive the same high praise as Rearray. The Kylian piece was not choreographed for 6000 Miles Away and is not danced by Guillem. You can see videos of a section of this work (dating back to 2010) on YouTube.

6000 Miles Away, like many other dance productions produced in conjunction with Sadlers Wells, went onto the international circuit backed by European arts festivals and various other venues. Australian festival directors or major arts venues add the works to their seasons months or years later. This was the pattern followed for Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra and Babel, for example, or Akram Khan’s Gnosis.

Next up on the circuit will be two works with annoyingly fussy titles – Sidi Larbi’s Puz/zle, premiering at Sadlers Wells in April 2013 and Khan’s iTMOi (in the mind of igor) in which Khan aims to discover how Stravinsky “transformed the classical world of music by evoking emotions through patterns, rather than through expression”.

With a world premiere in Grenoble on 14 May it will have its London premiere at Sadlers Wells two weeks later.

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Sylvie Guillem in Rearray, photo © Bill Cooper

Sylvie Guillem in Rearray, photo © Bill Cooper

Sylvie Guillem in Mats Ek’s Bye, photo © Bill Cooper