Sylvie Guillem: 'I don't want to think about my last show – I just want to live it'

She was Rudolf Nureyev’s greatest protege and he nurtured her to stardom. Now, after four decades, Guillem is to retire. She talks about her fights, faults and fears

On 30 December, at 4pm in Japan, Sylvie Guillem will dance in public for the last time. Whatever the new year holds, the life she lives will change utterly. There will be no more early mornings in over-heated dance studios, no more late nights on stage. Gone will be the aching limbs, the ice baths, the bouquets and the rapturous applause that have been her lot for 39 glorious years.

Since March, she has toured the world, saying goodbye with a programme of new work, Life in Progress. In two weeks, the farewell will be final. I was lucky enough to watch as she prepared each piece; we have met and talked throughout the year. During our last exchange, by email, as she travelled to Vienna, I asked her about her last show in Japan. “I do not want to speak or think about it,” she wrote. “I just want to simply live it.”

Related: Sylvie Guillem’s career, step by step – in pictures

Guillem has always been someone who wants to look at the wider world, beyond the etiolated concerns of the dance studio

Related: Elevated visions: how William Forsythe changed the face of dance

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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