The Privilege of Doing What You Love - A Conversation with Sylvie Guillem


By Kate Feinberg Robins

In a recent documentary, acclaimed dancer Sylvie Guillem, now retired from performing, shares insights on wellness, life, and a career in the arts. Beautifully filmed, with striking clips from her performance career. Here are some highlights from the interview.

On the deep sense of responsibility that comes with the privilege of getting paid to do what you love:

We are so lucky to do this. Very few people have the opportunity to go onstage and go in front of an audience and be treated like we are now.... We have the studio. We have the clothing. We have the pointe shoes. We have money. We get paid for that. That's a responsibility we have. ...If you don't respect the work you are doing then leave. ...It's a lack of respect for you, for the work you do, for dance, for the audience, and for the [dancers] who can't get in [to world class professional companies].

On the wellness benefits of ballet barre and Pilates: 

I train because I feel good doing it. One day I do my barre, and the next day I do Pilates.

 On listening to your instinct, having faith in yourself, and being bold:

A long time ago when someone said to me, ‘So you’re going to leave Paris Opera....What are you going to do?’ ...I said, ‘Listen. We’ll see....If I can’t make it in dance, then I will go and do my garden.’
On nutrition:
I became vegan around 45, at the moment where normally the energy and the strength is going down, and I had more stamina.

On paying attention and impacting the world around you:

If you alone change, it’s not going to change the world....But someone needs to start. Someone needs to do it. ..It’s easy with a passion like we have to forget about the world. But the world exists and every action that you accomplish in your daily life is important and you need to be aware of that. 


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