Sylvie Guillem, a true dance goddess on stage! Her allure, grace and versatility leave her audience numb – eyes forget to blink, its the sheer awe of watching Guillem dance. In her artistic journey spanning for about 3 decades, she has worked with renowned choreographers, performed with innumerable companies and collaborated with dancers and film makers. Guillem returns to Sadler’s Wells with her ‘6000 miles away’ which premiered in 2011, featuring three pieces – Bye, Rearray and 27’52”.
‘Bye’ the closing piece of the evening, is a solo by Guillem, choreographed by Mat Eks. It is based on Beethoven’s last piano sonata. Apart from being an outstanding piece of choreography and performance, it is a testimony of technological brilliance. It’s the high point where the energies of the two spheres – artistic creativity and technology, brush against each other resulting in a work of high art.
There is a white rectangular projection screen about 7 feet tall on which a zoomed in eye is trying to look out of a keyhole. As it zooms out we see Guillem…this is where ‘Bye’ begins. The projection screen appears to be a white boxlike space from where Guillem is gazing at the outside world – a little eager to step out. Along with curiosity there is fear of the unknown. She makes the first few hesitant but measured moves. She starts by trying to climb out from the top. We see Guillem’s head out from behind the top of the screen while the rest of her body remains within the screen (a pre filmed section). Here lies the mastery of coordination and timing. Its this play of reel and real that takes the piece to a surreal plane. This is followed by parts of Guillem’s body flickering out of the screen until she manages to completely squeeze out – her first full physical appearance on stage for this piece.
The rest of the piece leads to this lonesome sole exploring around her newly discovered space. She crosses paths with the projection screen which is trying to pull her back in. She resists with her inner strength personified by intense movements. Sometimes with a heavy gust of energy or a subtle tricky move she manages to keep herself out. Towards the end of the piece there starts appearing on the projection screen few others who look out to her. To us its blank gaze, but holds a message for Guillem. She has explored, now its time to return. She gets back in and what we now see is a pre filmed concluding part on the projection screen. She gradually merges with the crowd and is lost in her own space. We assume that the person who was with us for that brief moment has found the answers to her questions.
The piece produces an outflow of emotions that form a third layer, perhaps, in the human body under the flesh and the network of veins carrying the crimson blood. Had emotion been only a natural instinctive state of the mind then each muscle of Guillem’s body would not speak. Its the strength of Ek’s choreography that stirs that layer of emotion to project the idea of the piece. Guillem is a gifted dancer with a perfect body. Through her body, simple moves transform to magnificent forms, bringing an edge to her dance.
‘Rearray’ by William Forsythe is about strong technique that is flawlessly executed by Guillem and her partner Massimo Murru in the piece. An austere set up projecting a serious focus on movement. There is no strict narrative that the piece follows. It possibly suggests rearranging sets of movements to produce a fine piece of art.
‘27’52”’ the opening piece of the evening is performed by Aurelie Cayla and Lukas Timulak who bring with them a different dimension of movements. Set to an electronic score which is unrecognizably based on themes by Gustav Mahler, this piece is a contrast to the mood of the remaining evening. Choreographed by Jiri Kylian, ‘27’52”’ is a good filler but could not hold its might to ‘Bye’, as by the end of the show it fades away from the audience’s memory.
‘6000 miles away’ is based on Guillem’s belief that distance cannot end the admiration you might have for someone. It is not important for you to be physically near, to like someone. Most importantly, she named this production as an offering of respect to the victims of the Tsunami in Japan that happened as she was rehearsing with Forsythe in London. 6000 miles away is an extraordinary homage and a remarkable presentation which permanently places Guillem in the hearts of her audience.