The world-famous dancer and former star of the Royal Ballet, Sylvie Guillem, has strongly criticised Britain’s biggest dance company, and revealed her dislike of its recently departed director, in an astonishingly frank interview with The Independent.
Guillem, who was one of the Royal Ballet’s biggest attractions for more than a decade, said the company was hidebound by tradition and reluctant to invite foreign choreographers.
She admits to blazing rows with the Royal Ballet’s revered choreographer, the late Sir Kenneth MacMillan, one of which was accidentally broadcast over Covent Garden’s loudspeaker system. But she reserves her strongest comments for the recently retired artistic director, Monica Mason, who first danced with the company as a peer of Margot Fonteyn and spent her whole life with it until she left at the end of last year.
In words likely to stun the dance establishment in Britain, Guillem said: “It was exactly what a director of a company should not be, stupid, frustrated, no vision. That’s why I left when she took over. She did exactly the opposite of what Rudolf did, choose people who were not at the level to be principal.”
“Rudolf” is the legendary Rudolf Nureyev, who was her mentor at the Paris Opera ballet company, where she began her career.
Guillem returns to London in 10 days’ time to dance at Sadler’s Wells. She has recently become an ecological campaigner against the pollution of the oceans and the danger to species, and Sadler’s Wells audiences will be leafleted with information on these issues.