William Forsythe is a radical innovator in choreography and dance. For more than four decades, he has redefined the syntax and praxis of his field, exerting unparalleled influence on subsequent generations of artists. Over the course of his career, he has developed an extensive repertoire of groundbreaking ballet choreographies and experimental, non-proscenium-based dance-theater works, as well as an open-access digital platform for dance analysis, notation, and improvisation. His works are featured in the repertoire of many of the world’s major ballet companies, including Paris Opera Ballet; Mariinsky Ballet, Saint Petersburg; Semperoper Ballet, Dresden, Germany; Royal Ballet, London; New York City Ballet; San Francisco Ballet; Boston Ballet; and the National Ballet of Canada. Parallel with the evolution of his choreographic performances, Forsythe has worked for more than twenty years on installations, film works, and discrete, interactive sculptures, which he calls “choreographic objects.”
Forsythe was born in 1949 in New York. He was resident choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet, Germany, from 1976 to 1984, and director of Ballet Frankfurt, Germany, from 1984 to 2004. He established and directed the Forsythe Company from 2005 to 2015, and was most recently artistic advisor to the Paris Opera. He was named an honorary fellow of the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London and holds an honorary doctorate from the Juilliard School in New York. Solo museum exhibitions include Proliferation and Perfect Disorder, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2006); Additive Inverse, 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo (2007); Focus on Forsythe, Sadler’s Wells and Tate Modern, London (2009); Transfigurations, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2009); Nowhere and Everywhere, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (2013); The Fact of Matter, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2015); and Wanås Konst, Knislinge, Sweden (2017). Beginning in 1989 with a special commission by architect Daniel Libeskind, The Books of Groningen, Forsythe has produced numerous installations, among them Tight Roaring Circle, Artangel, London (1997); Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, Creative Time, New York (2005); and Black Flags, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Germany (2014–15). He has participated in the Whitney Biennial (1997); Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2005, 2009, 2012, 2014); and Sydney Biennale (2016).
Forsythe has received several awards, including the title of Commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters (1999); Hessische Kulturpreis/Hessian Culture Prize (1995); German Distinguished Service Cross (1997); Wexner Prize (2002); Golden Lion of the Biennale di Venezia (2010); Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2012); and Grand Prix de la SACD (2016).
Forsythe lives and works in Vermont.
November 29–December 1, 2019
PACT Zollverein, Essen, Germany
To mark a new piece of choreography by Rauf “RubberLegz” Yasit and Brigel Gjoka, William Forsythe is staging a film and installation program that celebrates his long-standing relationship with the duo, featuring the presentation of a new choreographic object (as Forsythe terms his works), called Heaven and Hell. The event is free to attend.
William Forsythe, Alignigung II, 2017 (still) © William Forsythe
A Quiet Evening of Dance
October 30–31, 2019
Romaeuropa Festival, Rome
For this fresh configuration of new and existing work, William Forsythe has imagined something akin to an evening of chamber music, designed to be listened to. The intricate phrasing of the dancers’ breath is the primary accompaniment for a distillation of the geometric origins of classical ballet. To attend the event, purchase tickets at romaeuropa.net.
Performance of William Forsythe: A Quiet Evening of Dance at Sadler’s Wells Theater, London, 2018. Photo: Johan Persson, courtesy Sadler’s Wells
A Quiet Evening of Dance
October 11–25, 2019
The Shed, New York
For this fresh configuration of new and existing work, William Forsythe has imagined something akin to an evening of chamber music, designed to be listened to. The intricate phrasing of the dancers’ breath is the primary accompaniment for a distillation of the geometric origins of classical ballet. To attend the event, purchase tickets at theshed.org.
Photo: courtesy the Shed
Through December 1, 2019
Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
William Forsythe is presenting four exhibitions at the Museum Folkwang over the course of 2019. The first project is the interactive video work City of Abstracts (2000), which is installed in the museum’s foyer from February until the end of May. As visitors approach the piece their images are projected onto a screen, inviting interaction as their bodies are melded into a dance of stretched and spiraled forms. The second project is Human Writes Drawings, on view for the month of June, which shows Forsythe succeeding in transferring his choreographic exploration of human rights into the genre of drawing. The third, Aviariation, on view in one of the museum’s courtyards starting June 29, sets the branches of trees planted there swaying, the leaves rustling. Besides engaging viewers, the movements have an effect on the local bird population—as the title suggests. In November, Forsythe presents the fourth and final part, Acquisition/Körperschaft, a work, featuring two dancers, that is at once performative and participatory, and that he is adapting specially for Museum Folkwang.
William Forsythe, City of Abstracts, 2000, installation view, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany © William Forsythe
William Forsythe in
December 7, 2019–April 26, 2020
Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia
Water invites visitors to explore the vital element, which sustains all forms of life on earth. From immersive experiences to smaller-scale treasures, the exhibition highlights the importance of water and aims to spark conversations about the environmental and social challenges we face today. Work by William Forsythe is included.
William Forsythe, The Fact of Matter, 2009 © William Forsythe. Photo: Liza Voll
William Forsythe in
Sinnesrausch: Kunst und Bewegung
May 23–October 13, 2019
OÖ Kulturquartier, Linz, Austria
This exhibition includes large installations on the roof and in the great hall that must be “actively” perceived by visitors in a playful way, not only with the eyes but with the whole body. Work by William Forsythe is included.
William Forsythe in
May 26–October 6, 2019
Various venues, Bad Homburg and Frankfurt Rhine Main, Germany
The twelfth edition of Blickachsen, a biennial exhibition of sculpture and installations, focuses attention on the interplay between contemporary art and its historical surroundings. The exhibition aims to show works by both young artists and renowned sculptors. Work by William Forsythe is included.
William Forsythe, Backwards, 2019 © William Forsythe. Photo: Blickachsen Foundation