Sylvie Guillem presents something of a conundrum for dance criticism. Typically, it’s possible to separate the dancer from the dance — to distinguish the merits of the choreography itself, from how the dancer executes it and brings it to life.
The 47-year-old Guillem has performed so many roles and styles over her long career that this would seem to be an easy task. And yet, watching her inhabit tailor-made works in “6000 Miles Away,” it was hard to imagine anyone else performing them — for she is one of those rare artists whose instrument alone expands the boundaries of what dance can express.
In the program recently staged by The Joyce at Lincoln Center, Sylvie’s instrument was in the hands of William Forsythe and Mats Ek, from whom the ballerina commissioned two original works to flank an excerpt from Jiří Kylián’s explosive “27’52”.”
For both Forsythe and Ek, classical ballet provides as much a foundation as a subject for artistic commentary. That is about where the similarities between the two choreographers end, however. Whereas Forsythe’s steely “Rearray” puts Guillem’s exceptional technique under a microscope, Ek gives it a back seat in “Bye” — a work that, best it can, portrays Sylvie as a normal human being.