William Forsythe grew up in New York and began his education with Nolan Dingman and Christa Long in Florida. He danced with the Joffrey Ballet and later on the Stuttgarter Ballet before becoming the latter’s house choreographer in 1976. In the following seven years, he created new works for the Stuttgart ensemble as well as ballet companies in Munich, London, Berlin, Paris and New York, among others. His 20-year career as director of the Ballet Frankfurt began in 1984. Forsythe’s works from this period have a central position in the repertoire of important ballet ensembles throughout the world, including the Petersburg Mariinsky Ballet, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, The Royal Ballet and The Paris Opera Ballet.
After the dissolution of the Ballett Frankfurt in 2004, Forsythe formed a new, independent ensemble: The Forsythe Company, which has its permanent venues in Dresden and Frankfurt/Main, and performs international guest performances.
Forsythe and his ensemble have received numerous honours, among them the New York “Bessie“ dance and performance award, as well as the Laurence Olivier Award of London. Forsythe received a Golden Lion for his life’s work at the Bienniale in Venice in 2010.
Since the 2005 founding of The Forsythe Company, the activities of the Frankfurt-based choreographer have proliferated. Today, not only does William Forsythe create stage pieces, but also works at developing new formats for theaters, museums, and galleries in order to explore his idea of choreography as in idea that can involve different arealisations and materialisations. Within the framework of exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale or in HELLERAU – European Center for the Arts Dresden, which, serves as the company’s second home stage since 2005, numerous 'performance installations' or so-called 'choreographic objects' have been created, and, in the broadest sense, conceive of choreography as a guide to action. For example, in “Human Writes,” Forsythe’s confrontation with the state of human rights in our society today, participants become co-performers in the divided theater space. Fixed positions of observation are eliminated and one’s own focus and physical position in space are elevated to a requirement for an aesthetic experience.
In addition, William Forsythe continues to choreograph dance pieces based on a movement language which has long since integrated its beginnings in Forsythe’s involvement with classical ballet of the 1980s and 1990s and has combined with other techniques. In pieces such as “Yes we can’t,” Forsythe embarks on a search for a quality of movement that is increasingly oriented toward the dancers’ own selfawareness and reciprocal observing of one another, generating an intense presence in the space.
However, Forsythe would not be Forsythe without his great pleasure in playing with the theatre and its means. In a piece like “The Returns”, an acidic satire about the art scene, Forsythe virtuosically demonstrates how, as before, he still has the old theatre tricks up his sleeve.
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