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Sadler's Wells
London at New York City Center
(Sadler's Wells Website)
Sylvie Guillem & Russell Maliphant
(Sylvie Guillem Website)
(Russell Maliphant Website)
(City Center Website)

Solo, Shift, Two, Push

Choreography: Russell Maliphant
Lighting Design: Michael Hulls
Music: Andy Cowton, Carlos Montoya, Shirley Thompson
Tour Producer & Company Manager: Philip Burton
Production Manager: Alastair Wilson
Lighting Manager: Mike Lindsay
Sadler's Wells:
Chief Executive & Artistic Director: Alistair Spalding
General Manager: Chrissy Sharp

Press: Helene Davis Public Relations

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 15, 2006
Originally Published on

Sylvie Guillem, from Paris and Paris Opera Ballet School, danced for four years, 1984-1988, as Étoile, a star dancer, under then Artistic Director, Rudolf Nureyev. Ms. Guillem inspired choreographies from Jerome Robbins and Maurice Béjart, and choreographers who inspired her were Balanchine and Tudor. Ms. Guillem joined The Royal Ballet of London as a guest artist and has traveled the globe as a dance performer extraordinaire.

Russell Maliphant, a modern dance choreographer and performer, has been collaborating with Ms. Guillem, as she expands her repertoire and dance persona. The Canadian Mr. Maliphant joined The Royal Ballet School at the age of 16 and soon danced with Sadler's Wells Ballet. In 1988 he shifted to modern dance and later formed his own company, which travels worldwide. Mr. Maliphant has received commissions for companies, such as Lyon Opera Ballet. (Program Notes).

Solo (2005): Choreography by Russell Maliphant, Lighting Design by Michael Hulls, Music by Carlos Montoya, Sound Design by Andy Cowton, Costume by Sasha Keir, Performed by Sylvie Guillem. Ms. Guillem, shirt and pants all in white, thanks to Sasha Keir, and barefoot these days in modern dance genre, still looked like the ballerina as she danced to strikingly passionate Flamenco guitar, thanks to Carlos Montoya.

It's no wonder Rudolf Nureyev said she "danced like champagne", and I did see her dance, over the years, with Paris Opera Ballet and The Royal Ballet. But, tonight, she was "solo", in short red hair (maybe not her own) onstage at City Center in dramatic lighting and magnetic choreography. Ms. Guillem's legs could touch her hair and, it seemed, the very rafters above. At a point when so many dancers retire from performance, Ms. Guillem is just getting started on a new dance adventure.

Shift (1966): Choreography by Russell Maliphant, Lighting Design by Michael Hulls, Music by Shirley Thompson, Performed by Russell Maliphant. This is one dance I will never forget, as Michael Hulls, a genius lighting designer joined with Russell Maliphant to create multiple shadows of the dancer against a paneled backdrop, some shadows disappearing and re-appearing, as if the shadows had minds of their own. When Mr. Maliphant, a tall, muscular, and imposing figure, walked front stage, the shadows moved as well. His mere stage presence was charismatic, as was Shirley Thompson's mesmerizing score, and he caught the audience by surprise in this tour de force creation.

Two (1997): Choreography by Russell Maliphant, Lighting Design by Michael Hulls, Music by Andy Cowton, Performed by Sylvie Guillem. Two was once a solo, then trio (for three women), then solo again, and tonight we saw Ms. Guillem in virtuosic athleticism, as Andy Cowton's kinetic, electrified score and Michael Hull's wild lighting effects had her legs almost flying in kaleidoscopic fashion like a pendulum on fire. Ms. Guillem's arms and back were also showcased with muscular intensity in dynamic dervish. Her costume, with black, fringed pants and open-backed leotard, was an outstanding choice for the fan-like limbs.

Push (2005): Choreography by Russell Maliphant, Lighting Design by Michael Hulls, Music by Andy Cowton, Vocals by Barbara Gellhorn, Costume by Sasha Keir, Performed by Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant. After intermission, the highlight of the evening, a natural extension of the first three works, was a duo for both Ms. Guillem and Mr. Maliphant. Here one could understand the concepts and charge in Russell Maliphant's oeuvres. The elegance of the partnering was beyond comparison. At times it reminded me of Christopher Wheeldon's duo ballets, at times of Alvin Ailey's designs of sensual muscularity.

Ms. Guillem writhed and slithered on top of, under, through, and against Mr. Maliphant in visual magnificence, but simplicity of form. There was little eroticism, but much elegance and visceral engagement. Again, Michael Hulls' lighting was instrumental in the mix of this incandescent imagery. Andy Cowton's score, with Barbara Gellhorn's vocals, provide a rich curtain of sound to this work. It is certain that New York will remember Russell Maliphant when he seeks to return, as his modern concept is decidedly unique. And, New York will warmly welcome Sylvie Guillem in ballet, in modern, or in her next dance re-invention.

Sylvie Guillem & Russell Maliphant in Push

Photo courtesy of Bill Cooper

Sylvie Guillem & Russell Maliphant in Push

Photo courtesy of Bill Cooper

Sylvie Guillem in Solo

Photo courtesy of Bill Cooper


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at