Who is William Forsythe?

Written by Boston Ballet Staff

William Forsythe’s illustrious colleagues share why you won't want to miss the opportunity to experience his work live.

Video by Ernesto Galan

William Forsythe’s influence extends far beyond the dance realm. Here are 10 things to know about the world-renowned choreographer.


 

William Forsythe with the artists of Boston Ballet

Photo credit: Liza Voll

William Forsythe

Photo credit: Dominik Mentzos

William Forsythe with the artists of Boston Ballet

Photo credit: Liza Voll

William Forsythe

Photo credit: Dominik Mentzos

1. Revolutionary: Forsythe is credited with revolutionizing ballet, and has been hailed as “the most influential practitioner of the art form since Balanchine” (Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times).

2. International Choreographer:  Forsythe’s work has been performed by virtually every major ballet company in the world. Boston Ballet already has several audience favorites in our repertoire, including The Vertiginous Thrill of ExactitudeThe Second DetailPas/Parts 2018, and his latest work Playlist (EP), which Forsythe created on the company in 2019. Our partnership with Forsythe will add at least one of his works to our repertoire each year, resulting in the richest collection of his ballets in the United States.
 
3. Visionary: “Forsythe's basic idea is that ballet is like a language. It has vocabulary and rules of correct usage. But correct usage is not his focus—he's much more interested in bending and breaking the rules. So watch out for how the geometries of classical ballet are twisted, tilted or pulled out of line” (Sanjoy Roy, The Guardian).
 
4. Director: Forsythe served as Artistic Director of Ballet Frankfurt from 1984 to 2004, and created Artifact during his first year with the company. After the closure of Ballet Frankfurt, he founded The Forsythe Company, which he directed from 2005 to 2015.
 
5. Installation Artist: His interest in the fundamental principles of organization has led Forsythe to produce numerous interactive art installations, which he calls “Choreographic Objects.” His work has been exhibited at museums around the world including the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), Tate Modern (London), Louvre Museum (Paris), Design Biennale (Istanbul), and more.

Lia Cirio and Viktorina Kapitonova in Forsythe's Playlist (EP) by Angela Sterling

Lia Cirio and Viktorina Kapitonova in Forsythe's Playlist (EP)

Photo credit: Angela Sterling

6. Filmmaker: Forsythe’s short film “ALIGNIGUNG,” created for Paris Opera Ballet, features former Forsythe Company dancer Riley Watts and L.A.-based breakdancer Rauf “Rubberlegz” Yasit.
 
7. Inventor: Forsythe collaborated on an award-winning interactive computer application, Improvisation Technologies: A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye, which is used as a teaching tool by professional companies, dance conservatories, universities, and postgraduate architecture programs worldwide.
 
8. Designer: In addition to choreography, Forsythe frequently designs the sets, costumes, and lighting for his ballets. 
 
9. Educator: Forsythe is currently a Professor of Dance and Artistic Advisor for the Choreographic Institute at the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and a frequent guest lecturer at universities and cultural institutions. He is an Honorary Fellow at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London and holds an Honorary Doctorate from The Juilliard School in New York.

10. Creative Genius: Boston Ballet’s partnership with Forsythe continues this spring with two boundary-testing works: In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated (featured in rEVOLUTION, Feb 27–Mar 8, 2020) and Artifact Suite (featured in Off the Charts, May 8–29, 2020)

rEVOLUTION

See William Forsythe's work on stage

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director
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