'Sylvie's retirement fills me with deep emotion. She is truly a ballerina who appears only once in 100 years.

"In addition to her great physical ability, her large repertoire founded on a classical base but including modern and contemporary works is quite outstanding — and when I saw her just two years ago in 'Carmen' in Tokyo, I was encouraged by her still excellent performance."

Those are the words of Japan's all-time leading ballerina, Miyako Yoshida, who, like Guillem, turned 50 this year — and who, like her, is a former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet in London.