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William Forsythe

Choreographer

The American choreographer William Forsythe (New York, 1949) is regarded as one of the most influential innovators in contemporary ballet. Forsythe trained at Jacksonville University in Florida and the School of American Ballet in New York and danced with Joffrey Ballet in Chicago.

In 1976 he became resident choreographer with the Stuttgarter Ballett. In 1984, he became director of Ballett Frankfurt, where he created groundbreaking choreographies such as Artifact, Impressing the Czar, The Loss of Small Detail and Decreation. In 2004 he founded his own smaller company, The Forsythe Company. In 2015 he resigned as artistic director; his company was taken over by the Italian choreographer Jacopo Godani who renamed the group the Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company. Forsythe returned to the United States and has since worked as a freelance choreographer with leading ballet companies. In addition, he is currently Professor of Dance and artistic advisor to the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

His works feature on the repertoire of the Marijinski Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Ballet de l'Opéra national de Paris, Teatro alla Scala Milano, The Royal Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater and Dutch National Ballet, among others. Forsythe has received four 'Bessie' Awards, three Olivier Awards and the Prix Nijinsky. In 1999 he was appointed Commandeur des Arts et Lettres in France, in 2012 he received the Samuel H Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement and in 2016 the Grand Prix de la SACD. In 2010, at the prestigious Venice Biennale, he was awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his significant contribution to the development of the art form of dance.

Forsythe's work has been regularly shown at the Holland Festival since the 1980s. In 2010, his Angoloscuro was performed during the festival and in 2011, his choreeographies The Second Detail and Steptext were part of the Holland Festival programme Bill & Mr B of Dutch National Ballet. City of Abstracts, a choreographic installation, could be seen at Central Station and in the Amsterdam Public Library. In 2014, Forsythe returned with his own company with the Dutch premiere of The Returns and in 2019, the Dutch National Ballet danced his choreography Pas/Parts 2018 for the first time.

Photo: Dominik Mentzos