“William Forsythe . . . has fundamentally changed the way we look at, and think about, classical dance. Like Balanchine, [he] has enlarged the physical dimensions of the form.” —Dance Magazine
Maverick American expatriate choreographer William Forsythe, director of Germany’s Frankfurt Ballet for 20 years, almost single-handedly led ballet into the 21st century by expanding both its movement vocabulary and its influences to include architecture, philosophy, linguistics, physics, and more. Offering a rare opportunity to experience a master’s work up close, members of The Forsythe Company perform a special evening of four chamber works, assembled exclusively for the Walker Art Center, at 8 pm Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater.
Raised and principally trained in New York, Forsythe arrived on the European dance scene in his early 20s as a dancer and eventually as Resident Choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet. At the same time he also created new works for ballet companies in Munich, The Hague, London, Basel, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, New York, and San Francisco. In 1984, he began his 20-year tenure as Director of the Frankfurt Ballet where he created a large and varied body of work. Key creations from these years include The Loss of Small Detail (1991) in collaboration with composer Thom Willems and designer Issey Miyake, Gänge (1982), Artifact (1984), Impressing the Czar (1988), Limb’s Theorem (1990), A L I E/N A(C)TION (1992), Eidos:Telos (1995), Endless House (1999), and Kammer/Kammer (2000). Forsythe’s choreography and his companies’ performances have won overwhelming audience acclaim and the most prestigious awards the field has to offer, such as the Bessie (1988, 1998, 2004), Laurence Olivier Award (1992, 1999), Commandeur des Arts et Lettres (1999), the German Distinguished Service Cross (1997), and the Wexner Prize (2002). He has been chosen as Choreographer of the Year several times by the international critics’ survey.
After the closure of the Frankfurt Ballet in 2004, Forsythe established a new, more independent ensemble – The Forsythe Company. The company was founded with the support of the states of Saxony and Hesse, the cities of Dresden and Frankfurt am Main, and private sponsors. Forsythe’s most recent creations are developed and performed exclusively by the new company while his previous work is prominently featured in the repertoire of virtually every major ballet company in the world, including The Kirov, The New York City Ballet, The San Francisco Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, The Royal Ballet Covent Garden, and The Paris Opera Ballet, among many others. The Forsythe Company, based in Dresden and Frankfurt am Main, enjoys a yearly residency at the Schiffbauhalle of the Schauspielhaus Zürich and also maintains an extensive international touring schedule.
Forsythe has created numerous installations, including those commissioned by Daniel Libeskind in Germany, Artangel in London, Creative Time in New York, and the City of Paris. His short film, Solo, was presented at the 1997 Whitney Biennial. In 2006, a major exhibition of his performance, film, and installation work was presented at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.
His award-winning computer application Improvisation Technologies: A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye is used by professional companies, dance conservatories, universities, post-graduate architecture programs, and secondary schools worldwide. As an educator, Forsythe is regularly invited to lecture and give workshops at major universities and cultural institutions internationally. He served as the first Mentor in Dance in the inaugural cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative and currently co-directs and teaches in the Dance Apprentice Network aCross Europe (D.A.N.C.E.) program. Forsythe has been awarded an honorary fellowship from the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London and an honorary doctorate from the Juilliard School in New York.
Forsythe Company Master Class
Tuesday, March 13, 12 noon
$15 ($10 Walker members)
James Sewell Ballet Studio, 2nd floor, Hennepin Center for the Arts,
528 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis
Dana Caspersen, lead dancer with the Forsythe Company, teaches improvisational techniques. Limited to 25 dancers; advanced and/or professional level. Reservations highly recommended.
The Gertrude Lippincott Talking Dance Series
The Art of William Forsythe
Tuesday, March 13, 5:30 pm
Free, but reservations required; call 612.375.7600
Illusion Theater, Hennepin Center for the Arts, 528 Hennepin Avenue,
Choreographer/artistic director James Sewell, cofounder of James Sewell Ballet, joins Forsythe Company member and Minneapolis native Dana Caspersen in a conversation about William Forsythe’s unique choreography and the company’s work.
The Gertrude Lippincott Talking Dance Series is made possible by Judith Brin Ingber. The Forsythe Company’s residency activities are presented in association with James Sewell Ballet.
Tickets to William Forsythe: Chamber Works are $45 ($36 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.