William Forsythe (choreographer)

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This article is about the choreographer. For the actor, see William Forsythe (actor).
William Forsythe (2012)

William Forsythe (born December 30, 1949 in New York City)[1] William Forsythe did not start formal training until his late teens. He was extremely musical — his grandfather was a violin prodigy. Forsythe played “bassoon, violin, flute and sang in choruses”. He choreographed his high school musicals and was reportedly an “extremely good club dancer” who would sneak into nightclubs with a fake ID.

He trained in Florida under Christa Long and Nolan Dingman, who was one of Balanchine’s original dancers .He is an American dancer and choreographer resident in Frankfurt am Main in Hessen. He is known internationally for his work with the Ballet Frankfurt (1984–2004) and The Forsythe Company (2005–present). Recognized for the integration of ballet and visual arts, his vision of choreography as an organizational practice has inspired him to produce numerous Installations, Films, and Web based knowledge creation.

Life and career[edit]

William Forsythe began his professional career as an apprentice with the Joffrey Ballet in 1971 [2] before following his then wife, Eileen Brady, to join the Stuttgart Ballet in 1973. Encouraged by the director, Marcia Haydée, Forsythe began choreographing works for the company and was appointed Resident Choreographer in 1976. Mr. Forsythe has three grown children. Son Sam whose mother is the former Australian Ballet dancer Alida Chase, is an expert breakdancer. Sam is a brilliant brreakdancer and he also is training for gymnastics." Forsythe has a daughter with his first wife, former dancer Eileen Brady.Mr. Forsythe’s wife Maier died of cervical cancer in February 1994 at the age of 32. “Three Atmospheric Studies,” his new and most overtly political piece, is a charge of war: “Forsythe’s Guernica. Fueled by the Iraq war Mr. Forsythe’s new work originated in Lucas Cranach the Elder’s 1503 painting (https://www.google.com/search?q=Lucas+Cranach+the+Elder%E2%80%99s+1503&client=safari&rls=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi5-vaqmZ7NAhVFOz4KHZQoA1UQ_AUICSgC&biw=1280&bih=734#imgrc=SxwHocCr93p6bM%3A) of the crucifixion. Forsythe drew the idea for these overlapping perspectives from the Cranach painting, in which several historical periods are depicted at the same time within the picture. He regularly checks Iraqbodycount.org, a Web site that tallies the reported names, ages and causes of death of Iraqi civilians killed in the war

He recently married another Ballet Frankfurt dancer and choreographer, Dana Caspersen. They live in Frankfurt but spend several weeks in December at their house in Vermont. During the next seven years he created original works for the Stuttgart Ensemble, and for ballet companies in Munich, The Hague, London, Basel, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, New York, and San Francisco. In 1984 he was appointed director of the Ballet Frankfurt.[1] After the closure of Ballet Frankfurt in 2004, he founded the Forsythe Company with the support of the states of Saxony and Hesse, the cities of Dresden and Frankfurt am Main, and private sponsors. The Forsythe Company is based in Dresden and Frankfurt am Main.

Mr. Forsythe will become the Paris Opera Ballet’s associate choreographer. Mr. Forsythe is creating infrastructures for art galleries, public spaces that direct the viewers to make them experience their bodies. Eager to expose audiences in different ways, he is now working on “Memorial,” an installation piece for the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich that takes the form of a blizzard of paper pieces bearing the names of dead Iraqi civilians in Arabic.

Forsythe has produced and collaborated on numerous installation works, including White Bouncy Castle (1997, in collaboration with Dana Caspersen and Joel Ryan), City of Abstracts (2000), Scattered Crowd (2002), airdrawing|whenever on on on nohow on (2004, collaborating with Peter Welz), and You made me a monster (2005). The audience is also a participant in “You Made Me a Monster,” a performance-installation work. Mr. Forsythe explores the parallels he saw between a country’s prejudice and his wife’s cancer: the fear that, whether imagined or real, foreign bodies can invade and destroy us.Installation works by Forsythe have been shown at the Louvre Museum, Venice Biennale, the Renaissance Society in Chicago, and other locations. Forsythe has been commissioned to produce architectural and performance installations by architect-artist Daniel Libeskind, ARTANGEL (London), Creative Time (New York), and the City of Paris.

In 2014, Forsythe announced he will join the University of Southern California's newly created Glorya Kaufman School of Dance as a professor in fall 2015, when its first Bachelor of Fine Arts dance majors will begin attending; he will spend six to eight weeks a year at the university in Los Angeles.[3]

Selected works[edit]

  • 1976 Urlicht
  • 1983 Gänge
  • 1983 France/Dance
  • 1984 Artifact
  • 1985 Steptext
  • 1986 Isabelle's Dance
  • 1986 Die Befragung des Robert Scott
  • 1987 In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated
  • 1988 Impressing the Czar
  • 1990 Limb's Theorem
  • 1991 The Second Detail
  • 1991 Loss of Small Detail
  • 1992 ALIE/N A(C)TION
  • 1994 Self Meant to Govern
  • 1995 Eidos:Telos
  • 1996 The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude
  • 1997 Hypothetical Streams 2
  • 1998 Workwithinwork
  • 1999 Endless House
  • 2000 One Flat Thing, reproduced
  • 2000 Kammer/Kammer[4]
  • 2001 Woolf Phrase
  • 2003 Decreation
  • 2005 Three Atmospheric Studies
  • 2005 You made me a monster
  • 2006 Heterotopia
  • 2007 The Defenders
  • 2008 Yes we can't
  • 2008 I Don't Believe in Outer Space
  • 2009 The Returns


  • "Bessie" Award (1988, 1998, 2004, 2007)
  • Laurence Olivier Award (1992, 1999, 2009)
  • Government of France-Commandeur des Arts et Lettres (1999)
  • Service Cross-Germany (1997)
  • Wexner Prize (2002)
  • Deutscher Tanzpreis (2004)
  • Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement-Venice (2010)


  1. ^ a b Koegler, Horst (1998). Selma Jeanne Cohen, ed. International Encyclopedia of Dance. Oxford University Press. 
  2. ^ Reynolds, Nancy; Malcolm McCormick (2003). No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 
  3. ^ Roslyn Sulcas, William Forsythe to Join U.S.C. Dance School, The New York Times, May 7, 2014, accessed May 8, 2014.
  4. ^ Rockwell, John (4 May 2006). "Forsythe Company: Desire, Loss, Many Rooms and Catherine Deneuve". New York Times. Retrieved 1 July 2011. A review of Forsythe's Kammer/Kammer. 

External links[edit]