1. Half French and half Spanish. x
  2. Got the curved feet from her father, the legs from her mother and the tall thin body from her grandfather. x x
  3. Wears Freed pointe shoes. x x
  4. Thinks that the daily barre is boring. "You can’t imagine how much!" She laughs. "I try to do it as early as I can, to get rid of it." x
  5. In 1980 Balanchine picked her out of a line of 15-year-olds when he called on the Paris Opera Ballet School. x
  6. When she was 18 years old, preparing for the Varna competition she wrote a letter to Maurice Bejart asking for authorization to dance one of his piece for the modern dance section which then -  unknown to Bejart himself  - refused by his administration. Sylvie ignored it and won the special price with it, years later when they finally met Bejart validated her determination. x
  7. Named at the age of 19 years old as Danseuse Étoile just 5 days after she won the concours (POB internal competition) for the Premiere Danseuse rank, she is the youngest étoile ever in the history of the Paris Opera Ballet. x
  8. Rudolf Nureyev (who was openly gay) famously said that Guillem was the only woman he ever met that he could have married: "I’d switch back for Sylvie." x
  9. In 1988 at the age of 23 she shocked Nureyev and the French nation by leaving the Paris Opera Ballet to join Royal Ballet. Questions were asked in French Parliament for cultural minister Jacques Lang and French Newspaper Le Monde called her departure “a national catastrophe”.  x x
  10. Once (while still speaking poor English) she became a messenger for Nureyev to get permission from Frederick Ashton to stage Ondine at Paris Opera Ballet, Ashton declined. x
  11. Royal Ballet former director Anthony Dowell nicknamed her Mademoiselle Non for saying “no” so much. x x
  12. When she was guest artist at the Royal Ballet, the blazing row she had with choreographer Kenneth MacMillan transfixed the entire Opera House when it was accidentally broadcast through the public address system. x
  13. When presented with the (first) Nijinsky Prize for “the world’s best ballerina” in 2001 she shocked the ceremony and dignitaries, including Prince Albert of Monaco, by attacking such popularity awards as being artistically damaging and encouraging a "cultural supermarket". She protested that the exceptional in dance had never needed such engineered awards to become popular. x
  14. At one time during her years in Royal Ballet, the dancers were giving their old pointe shoes for fund raising - except Sylvie Guillem saying that she did not want to encourage fetishism.
  15. Oleg Vinogradov (former director of Mariinsky Ballet), has called her “the best ballerina in the world”. "It is impossible," he has said, "to overestimate the influence she has had on future ballerinas." x
  16. Russian ballet had been known for its small, delicate women, but Vinogradov was mad about Sylvie Guillem and eagerly started unearthing tall new girls in her image - his “basketball team”, as they were known. Suddenly, the company’s ranks were filled with taller women, such as Uliana Lopatkina or Yulia Makhalina. x x x
  17. She photographed herself nude for the French Vogue to show "the way I am and the way I see myself." x
  18. Became the first dancer to dance Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand revival after the death of Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. She refused the offer twice thinking it was too soon and she’s too young before accepting it on the third time. x
  19. Nikolai Tsiskaridze is such a big fan of Sylvie Guillem that he feigned fever so he would not have to dance during one of Bolshoi tours in order to see her performance. x
  20. Feels that Swan Lake is her most personal failure because her idea of it was so high that she never succeeded in dancing it to her satisfaction (not being able to be happy in it). x x
  21. Became vegetarian a year ago, she is also supporting Sea Shepherd and campaigning to raise awareness of animal welfare and the depletion of the oceans. x