On Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, Samuel Wuersten, general and artistic director of the Holland Dance Festival, spoke to The Hague Women’s Network about the inspiring woman in dance, Sylvie Guillem. An iconic dancer, as she caused change in the (dance)world.

She “retired” in 2015, but to this day Sylvie Guillem still knows how to move the world of dance. With her flexibility and rich expressive power, she set the tone for dance of the past, present and future.

That Guillem was going to make a difference became soon clear. As the youngest dancer ever (only 19 years old), she was named “Etoile” (star) with the Paris Opera Ballet. In her later career, Sylvie Guillem also managed to shake up the dance world. With her departure from the Paris Opera Ballet to the Royal Ballet in London, she surprised friend and foe. According to the then Minister of Arts (France), the switch created “a national disaster,” but Guillem persevered. Her new contract allowed her to choose productions and dance partners herself. The desire for freedom, the ability to decide for herself, led to her nickname “Mademoiselle Non.”

Once starting out as a ballerina, Sylvie Guillem increasingly performed modern dance later in life. However, she makes no distinction; “modern” and “classical” are merely labels. For Guillem, in fact, there is only dance.

On the occasion of the “Lucca premia la danza” award 2021 for Sylvie Guillem, Samuel Wuersten (HDF) interviewed the French star dancer. In addition to the interview, wonderful film clips are shown, including the classic ballet Swan Lakes. Next, Guillem dances the solo Wet Woman by choreographer Mats Ek. Finally, the pas de deux Push, in which Guillem and Russel Maliphant almost merge, is shown.