William Forsythe

(b. 1949)

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(b New York, 30 Dec. 1949)

US dancer, choreographer, and director. He studied with Jonathan Watts, Maggie Black, and Finis Jhung at the Joffrey Ballet School from 1969 and danced with the company (1971–3) before moving to Stuttgart Ballet (1973–81). He choreographed his first ballet Urlicht in 1976 (mus. Mahler, Noverre Society, staged Stuttgart Ballet, 1976) and became the company's resident choreographer until 1981, also creating there his highly popular work Love Songs (mus. Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick, 1979). After freelancing in Europe he was appointed choreographer of the Frankfurt Ballet in 1982, becoming its director and chief choreographer in 1984. Almost from the beginning his work was a conscious assault on the ‘gracious rhetoric’ of classical ballet. His dancers moved with a force that sent them almost off balance, their bodies stretched and tilted at drastic angles and their movements slamming from one position to another. In duets they often appeared combative rather than mutually supportive. Some works were created without obvious plot or character—simply deconstructing the theatrical language of ballet—while others placed dance within surreal theatrical contexts. In France/Dance (1983) papier-maché animals, figures, and buildings were dotted around the stage as an actor recited a fragmented text; in Interrogation of Robert Scott (1986) a television screen showed a man apparently under interrogation while several voices (live and recorded) posed questions and answers. Both his choreographic style and his stage concepts have exercised a profound influence on younger choreographers. Other works from his early to middle period include Steptext (mus. J. S. Bach, Aterballetto, 1984, staged Frankfurt Ballet, 1985, and Royal Ballet, 1995), The Loss of Small Detail (mus. Willems, Frankfurt Ballet, 1987), Impressing the Czar (including In the middle somewhat elevated, mus. Willems, Beethoven, Stuck, Crossman-Hecht, Frankfurt Ballet, 1988, one-act version Paris Opera, 1988, also staged Royal Ballet, 1992), Herman Schmerman (mus. Willems, New York City Ballet, 1992, also staged Royal Ballet, 1993), Limb's Theorem (mus. Willems, Frankfurt Ballet, 1990), and Quintett (mus. Bryars, Frankfurt Ballet, 1993). In his more recent works he has choreographed in increasingly close collaboration with his dancers, and productions like Kammer/Kammer (mus. various, 2000) for Frankfurt Ballet have made a point of emphasizing the creative process involved in assembling the movement along with its accompanying sound, images, and text. In 2004 he left Frankfurt Ballet to form his own smaller company, aiming to explore in greater depth the process of collaboration and experiment with different modes of performance. Works for the Forsythe Company include Three Atmospheric Studies (2005).

http://www.theforsythecompany.com Website for the Forsythe company

Subjects: Dance.

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