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Born in France, Isabelle Guérin studied at the Conservatoire of Paris, where she won first prize in 1977, and then entered the Paris Opera Ballet School. The following year, at 17, she joined the Paris Opera Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet. In 1978, she was promoted to the rank of Quadrille and Kenneth MacMillan chose her for the role of Spring in his Four Seasons. In 1979 Guérin rose to the rank of Coryphée and in 1981, Sujet. In 1982 she danced the role of Carabosse in Rosella Hightower’s staging of The Sleeping Beauty. In 1983, she danced Kitri in Nureyev’s Don Quixote. In 1984 she won the Gold Medal at the Paris Concours and was promoted to Première Danseuse. On November 2, 1985 she was appointed Étoile by Rudolf Nureyev after a performance of Swan Lake.
Guérin’s roles with the Paris Opera Ballet included all the muses in Apollo, Nikiya in Nureyev’s La Bayadère, Giselle in Giselle, Manon in Manon, the leading role in John Neumeier’s
The Nutcracker, the Siren in Prodigal Son, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the leading role in The Song of the Earth, Odette-Odile in both the Bournmeister and Nureyev productions of Swan Lake and leading roles in Agon, Dances at a Gathering, Études, The Four Temperaments, Other Dances and Serge Lifar’s Suite en Blanc.
Her repertoire also included leading roles in Jerome Robbins’ In the Night, The Concert and The Four Seasons; Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated; Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove and Grand Pas: Rhythm of the Saints and Angelin Preljoca’s Le Parc.
Her awards include the Prix Pavlova (1988), the Benois de la Danse in Moscow (1993), Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (1997) and a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (2000).