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Letter: Guillem and the Nureyev tribute

Sir: David Lister's article 'Ballet star snubs Nureyev tribute' (2 March) was offensive and thoroughly unfair to Sylvie Guillem, whom I represent. (The article reported that Miss Guillem 'has snubbed the international gala tribute to Rudolf Nureyev because the organisers will not allow her to choose her own dance'.)

Miss Guillem had professional commitments abroad during the relevant period. Nevertheless, she offered to return to London for the day of the tribute, although such a trip would have created considerable personal difficulties for her.

Quite obviously, in the time available, she would have had to perform a work from her repertoire. She offered to dance the extraordinary William Forsythe piece Herman Schmerman. The organisers of the tribute declined her offer and asked her to dance a work with which she is completely unfamiliar, apparently involving the Muppets. The performance of this piece would have required time for rehearsals which made the proposal absolutely impossible for Miss Guillem to accept.

Sylvie Guillem was extremely close to Rudolf Nureyev. She left the Paris Opera after a dispute over oppressive artists' contracts. The argument was with the administrators of the Paris Opera, not Rudolf Nureyev.

Yours faithfully,


Davenport Lyons

London, W1

4 March

(Photograph omitted)