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.
Full on Forsythe
March 7–17, 2019
Boston Opera House
The Boston Ballet’s 2019 spring season will open with Full on Forsythe by choreographer William Forsythe. The program features the world premiere of Playlist (EP), driven by an eclectic mix of hip-hop and R&B songs; the North American premiere of Blake Works I, set to music by Grammy-nominated musician James Blake; and Pas/Parts 2018, featuring an electronic score by Thom Willems. To attend the event, purchase tickets at www.bostonballet.org.
Photo: Rosalie O’Connor
Thursday, February 21, 2019, 7pm
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
William Forsythe will speak with Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, about his current exhibition at the museum, Choreographic Objects, on view through February 21, 2019. He will also discuss his artistic practice, physical thinking, and how he uses problem solving in his work. The event is free and open to the public.
William Forsythe, The Fact of Matter, 2009 © William Forsythe. Photo: Liza Voll
A Quiet Evening of Dance
October 4–6, 2018
Sadler’s Wells, London
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 works range from sparse analytic condensation to baroque-inspired counterpoint. 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 sadlerswells.com.
Photo: Dorothea Tuch
Through September 15, 2019
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Since the 1990s, parallel to his stage productions, William Forsythe has developed installations, sculptures, and films that he calls Choreographic Objects. Blurring the lines between performance, sculpture, and installation, these works invite the viewer to engage with the fundamental ideas of choreography.
William Forsythe, City of Abstracts, 2000 © William Forsythe. Photo: Dominik Mentzos
William Forsythe in
Through 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
William Forsythe in
Sinnesrausch: Kunst und Bewegung
Through 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.
Opened February 5, 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.
William Forsythe, City of Abstracts, 2000, installation view, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany © William Forsythe