This show was what many might call a slow burn. Only it didn’t have the burn. As has been well-publicised, Sylvie Guillem is in the midst of a world tour of Life in Progress which, at the age of 50, she has declared will be her last ever performances. In truth, although she appears as supple and magnetic a performer as ever, none of the pieces got the pulse racing.
Akram Khan’s technê set the tone for the whole evening. It had some wonderful movement in it, especially the opening sequence where Guillem scratched her way around a projected moon like a mutated insect, but it never really developed.
Enabling Guillem to have a quick rest, Brigel Gjoka and Riley Watts were up next having a go at William Forsythe’s DUO2015. Lovely dancers though they are, the curvaceous choreography never came to life (not helped by Thom Willem’s water-torture score). Still, I guess you don’t want to upstage the bride on her wedding day.
Back nipped Guillem with cohort Emanuela Montanari to show us Russell Maliphant’s Here & After. It started with them supporting and clinging on to each other but soon they separated and the night’s most interesting dancing began. The two of them were performing pretty much the same neo-classical choreography simultaneously and Montanari revealed herself as a gorgeous dancer; quick, smooth and light. But Guillem always seemed to have more time, more reach, more knowledge. It’s these indescribable qualities of physical, emotional and intellectual beauty that sets Guillem apart from everyone else.
The night finished with Mats Ek’s Bye, a faintly amusing piece with lots of projection tricks that showed off Guillem’s exquisite timing. At the end she disappeared into a gathering crowd as though accepting a life back with the ordinary folk. Not that there’s much chance of that; for so many people, myself included, she will forever remain extraordinary.
Life in Progress continues at the London Coliseum until 2 August 2015. The tickets that remain can be found on the Coliseum website.