smoke 3/3

This is the final video series of the duet, Smoke . It is Choreographed by Mats Ek and danced by Sylvie Guillem and Niklas Ek to music by Arvo Pert.

Sylvie Guillem was trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School. She graduated at 16 into the company and three years later was appointed top position in the company by the artistic director at the time, Rudolph Nureyev. She was the youngest ever to be promoted to such a high ranked position. She danced the entire classical repertoire including contemporary works by William Forsythe and other renowned contemporary choreographers. She joined the Royal Ballet in England as a principal guest dancer so she could guest with major companies around the world. Sylvie Guillem has an astonishing career and has received many awards for her excellence as a dancer beginning with the gold medal at the Varna Competition in 1985 to the Nijinsky Awarded for best dancer. She has also staged ballets such as Giselle for La Scala in Milan. What is amazing about Sylvie Guillem is that she has extended her dance career by crossing into the contemporary dance world dancing with choreographers such as Akram Khan Mats Ek and others. She is phenomenal in both. In the classical world she became a Prima Ballerina Assoluta and in the Contemporary world she is considered a “Dancer Stupenda”! And we see this no less in her moving solo in this video of Smoke.

In the previous section (part 2), we saw the relationship between the couple disintegrate with increased conflict until in a moment of desperate frustration the woman pushed her partner away who vanished into a void. The section ended as the final camera shot zoomed in on the shocked expression on the woman’s face in reaction to what she had done.

In this final section of Smoke, we see the woman dance through a myriad of emotions and actions to a calm, melancholic score that to me accentuates her unease and frantic need for distraction and escape from her inner turmoil. As a means to muster personal control she manically switches from one action to another in movement combinations that are grounded by three recurring motifs. We see a “cleaning motif” that implies a domestic chore, but is also symbolic of her effort to wash away her remorse or longing. And there is an “undressing motif” where, perhaps, she tries to strip away the guilt or relive that which is lost. And finally, a “looking in a mirror” motif where perhaps she seeks to reassure herself that she “is still there” recognizable, young and beautiful, and o.k. after what she has done. Only once the the man’s “memory” or presence walks by and at the end when he reappears, speaking to her through smoke, she falls away.

This is my favorite section of the duet. I take such pleasure in watching Sylvie Guillem dance the character with such physical honesty and emotional nakedness I find it moving and wrenching at the same time. I can certainly relate to the succinct words in a viewers response, “ Smoke, to me… it represents the ephemeral transience of life, love, death an everything in between… the weightlessness of time, the wisps of inspiration that form us, the subtle, swirling ecstasy of being alive and knowing it can’t last.”

To me, this is one of those rare pieces that is dramatically powerful superbly danced by a great dancer.

Enjoy this powerful and moving solo danced by Sylvie Guillem in Smoke, by Mats Ek, and SHARE!


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