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PRIMA BALLERINA SYLVIE GUILLEM, 41, STILL HOLDS THE SPOTLIGHT

This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on October 9, 2006.

Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) — Apart from a favored few, classical dancers die young — at least their technical prowess does. Following the example of Mikhail Baryshnikov, the 41-year-old, Paris-bred, London-based ballerina Sylvie Guillem is seeking out alternative kinds of dance in which to be riveting.

The superstar has teamed with the contemporary dancer and choreographer Russell Maliphant for a show called “PUSH.” The program of three solos and a long duet, a huge hit at Sadler’s Wells in London last year, has its first American showings at the New York City Center Wednesday through Sunday.

Guillem’s superstar status rests partly on her extravagant body and outsize temperament. She’s long and svelte, with endless legs capable of “ear-whacking” extensions. She trained as a gymnast before she went to the Paris Opera Ballet, becoming its youngest “etoile” (star) at the age of 19.

Her single-mindedness about what she wants to do and how she wants to do it have earned her the moniker “Mademoiselle Non” (“Miss No”). Her onstage glamour has a haughty glitter, though offstage, her self-effacement is Garbo-esque.

For “PUSH,” Maliphant has tailored his choreography to Guillem’s assets. And his Zen-like calm, athletic prowess, and feline sensuousness make him, as her partner, a splendid foil.

“PUSH” opens Wednesday at the New York City Center and continues Friday through Sunday. Tickets: (1)(212) 581-1212. Information: http://www.nycitycenter.org.

© 2006 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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