William Forsythe, born in New York in 1949, has been active in the field of choreography for over 50 years. His work is acknowledged for reorienting the practice of ballet from its identification with classical repertoire to a dynamic 21st century art form. Forsythe’s deep interest in the fundamental principles of organization of choreography has led him to produce a wide range of projects including installations, films, and web-based knowledge creation.
Raised in New York and initially trained in Florida with Nolan Dingman and Christa Long, Forsythe danced with the Joffrey Ballet and later the Stuttgart Ballet, where he was appointed Resident Choreographer in 1976. Over the next seven years, he created new works for the Stuttgart ensemble and other ballet companies worldwide. In 1984, he began a 20-year tenure as director of the Ballet Frankfurt, where he created works such as Artifact(1984), Impressing the Czar (1988), Limb’s Theorem (1990), The Loss of Small Detail (1991), Eidos:Telos (1995), Kammer/Kammer (2000) and Decreation (2003).
After the closure of the Ballet Frankfurt in 2004, Forsythe established a new, more independent ensemble, The Forsythe Company, which he directed from 2005 to 2015. Works produced by this ensemble include Three Atmospheric Studies (2005), Human Writes (2005), Heterotopia (2006), I don’t believe in outer space (2008) and Sider (2011). Forsythe’s works developed during this time were performed exclusively by The Forsythe Company, while his earlier pieces are prominently featured in the repertoire of virtually every major ballet company in the world. More recently Forsythe has created original works for the Ballet de l‘Opéra de Paris, English National Ballet, Boston Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballet of La Scala di Milano, as well as A Quiet Evening of Dance produced by Sadler’s Wells Theatre (London) and The Barre Project (Blake Works II) created for the digital stage.
Forsythe has been commissioned to produce architectural and performance installations. These Choreographic Objects, as he calls these works, have been presented in numerous museums and exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial (New York, 1997), the Louvre Museum (2006), 21_21 Design Sight (Tokyo, 2007), the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, 2009), Tate Modern (London, 2009), MoMA (New York 2010) and the Venice Biennale (2005, 2009, 2012, 2014), ICA Boston (2018), Museum Folkwang (2019), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2020) and Kunsthaus Zürich (2021).
In collaboration with media specialists and educators, Forsythe has developed new approaches to dance documentation, research, and education. Core elements of his CD-ROM Improvisation Technologies: A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye, developed with the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe and first published in 1999, are now accessible online (http://www.improvisation-technologies.zkm.de).
In 2002, Forsythe was chosen as the founding Dance Mentor for The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Forsythe is an Honorary Fellow at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London and holds an Honorary Doctorate from The Juilliard School in New York.
The Vienna State Ballet has so far shown Forsythe's Slingerland Pas de deux, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Second Detail and Artifact Suite as well as in a gala performance the Duo from Herman Schmerman. In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, commissioned by Rudolf Nureyev for the Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris in 1987, enters now for the first time in full length the Viennese repertoire to the striking electronic sounds of his long-time artistic partner Thom Willems.