Sylvie Guillem at Sadler’s Wells

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Friday 8th July 2011

I stopped and did a double-take when I spotted the news on Twitter. Halfway down Oxford Street to meet my teenage daughter from work, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. After 168 years, the News of the World was being shut down following the appalling phone hacking scandal.

The death of one of our oldest newspapers was still buzzing around my mind when we walked into Sadler’s Wells a couple of hours later. We’d booked seats months ago to attend a special gala performance of 6000 Miles Away, Sylvie Guillem’s new ballet, and couldn’t wait to see the 46-year-old legend onstage. The tickets cost a staggering £75 each but with proceeds going to the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal and the knowledge that we were truly privileged to see one of the world’s finest dancers in action, I didn’t begrudge a penny of it.

As soon as the curtain rose and the lights went down, everything else – newspapers, work, exams – was forgotten. When Guillem dances, you can’t take your eyes off her. Her long, sinuous limbs perform moves that simply don’t seem possible and her sheer confidence and charisma are breathtaking.

Guillem clearly lives and breathes dance. When Sarah Crompton, the Daily Telegraph’s arts editor, asked in a recent interview if she ever thought of stopping, the star was astonished. “…sometimes you think, why do I do all of this?” she replied. “Because you feel a little bit lost, a bit tired. But then you wake up a bit more and you go and you are excited by what you do.”

The other thing that struck me at the end was how graciously Guillem responded to the audience’s rapture. As she took bow after bow with a neat nod of her head , the clapping showed no sign of abating. Her performance had been so magical that none of us wanted it to be over.

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