Forsythe's Back in the U.S.—in a Major Way

June 28, 2016

American dancers have always liked to think of William Forsythe as one of our own. He was born in New York City! He got his start dancing with The Joffrey Ballet! No matter that he’s spent the vast majority of his career in Europe, where he created ground-breaking works like In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, and directed Ballet Frankfurt for 20 years then The Forsythe Company for 10 years. We die-hard Forsythe fans have always held out hope that one day he’d make his return.

William Forsythe, photo courtesy USC.

Now, it seems like our dream is finally coming true. When he left The Forsythe Company last year, he insisted he was looking for a more nomadic lifestyle, hopping from one company to the next without being stuck in any one place. He quickly became both Paris Opéra Ballet’s associate choreographer, as well as a professor at the University of Southern California’s new dance department.

But with his POB contract up, Forsythe is following Benjamin Millepied’s lead and leaving the company. His last program of works there (in his official capacity as associate choreographer, at least) will be performed next month.

And right now, it seems like most of his future plans will bring him back to the U.S.(!)

Boston Ballet recently announced a five-year partnership: Starting next season, the dancers will get one new Forsythe work added to their rep each year. (No word yet on whether those will be new creations, but artistic director Mikko Nissinen is hopeful).

Then this week, we found out that the previously announced “Celebrate Forsythe” program at The Music Center in Los Angeles—in which Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet will each dance one of his works—has expanded into a month-long “Fall for Forsythe” extravaganza. Hurray! Check out the lineup of events:

September 29-30: Focus Forsythe: The Choreographer’s Process

Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center, University of Southern California

Everyone’s invited into the brand-spanking new USC studios to get an insider’s look into Forsythe’s process. How does he do what he does? Watch him develop work on the students in real time, then listen to USC Kaufman vice dean Jodie Gates lead a conversation between Forsythe and two of his longtime collaborators, Jill Johnson and Christopher Roman.

October 14:
Futures in Motion

Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center, University of Southern California

As part of a three-day summit hosted by the USC Choreographic Institute (an interdisciplinary research center that Forsythe advises), this presentation will look at his “Synchronous Objects,” an interactive website that translates and re-imagines the organizational structures Forsythe uses to create his choreography.

October 15-16: Site-Specific Forsythe

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Rauf “Rubberlegz” Yasit and Riley Watts in Stellentstellen (2016). Photo via LACMA.

The ultimate mash-up of bodies, Stellentstellen (2016) will be performed by dancers Rauf “Rubberlegz” Yasit and Riley Watts. Watch them entangle themselves until you can’t tell who’s limb is whose.

Students from USC will take on an immersive dance challenge in Acquisition, a new creation by Forsythe. A press release promises it will “offer visitors the opportunity to personally acquire the choreographic work, which consists of an apparently simple, but cognitively challenging choreographic task.” Intriguing.

October 1-23:
Forsythe Designed: A Costume Exhibition

Los Angeles-area locations to be announced

Misa Kuranaga in Stephen Galloway’s Vertiginous tutu. Photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy Boston Ballet.

Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t forget those tutus from The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. This exhibit offers an up-close look at costumes Forsythe designed himself, as well as some he developed with fashion designers like Gianni Versace, Issey Miyake and Stephen Galloway. It will also include videos of dancers performing in the costumes.

October 21-23: Celebrate Forsythe

The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

To cap off the month-long celebration, the cherry on top of the sundae will be Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet sharing a program of Forsythe works. (Apparently, each was personally chosen by the choreographer himself.) Houston Ballet will dance Artifact Suite, Pacific Northwest Ballet will perform The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and San Francisco Ballet will do Pas/Parts 2016.

Personally, I’m thinking of starting a campaign to name October “Forsythe Month.” In the meantime, I can’t wait to find out what other Forsythe goodies might be in store.