Posted 28 October 2003 - 12:01 PM
So, what did you think?
Posted 28 October 2003 - 10:12 PM
Posted 29 October 2003 - 05:50 PM
Not seeing this until next week. Herein lies the problem. ABT normally does a 2-week season at City Center; this year it was expanded to 3 weeks but with 2 weeks worth of repertory, so unless one wishes to see more than one evening of New Works (or the dreaded "W" program) one tends to stick with the oldies but goodies.
Posted 05 November 2003 - 06:21 AM
The work is more in the vein of the work he did in Paris, Pas./parts than of older work like Enemy in the Figure or newer work like Woolf Loops (was that the name of the Woolf piece from '01?). It's dark rather than light, but abstract and experimental more than hostile. It has a certain purity to it.
My own feeling is the work is overlong, and as a work itself, less interesting than some of his other works (In the Middle or China Dogs) but also less violent.
As usual with Forsythe, I leave his works less pondering the ballet itself but its relation to the canon. I wonder what Forsythe will mean, if anything, to ballet. I also wonder if this is truly what this generation's classicism looks like. If so, it's interesting how episodic we are. Maybe it's because of TV, but it seems we've given up on the idea of beginnings, middles and ends in ballets. The sections of the Forsythe, like most of his work, could be interchanged with no change in the ballet and no one seems to find this out of the ordinary.
I also wonder if his ballets will change the performance of other ballets (remember the comments about how MacMillan's ballets changed how Ashton was danced?). I worry about that, but I also have to say that worry is not borne out by experience. The companies I've seen that acquired one or two Forsythe ballets have danced their other repertory better rather than worse. It's emotionally cleansing for the dancers, it seems, and importantly, the Forsythe isn't cut off from the vernacular culture in a way that, sadly, other parts of ballet have been in the way that a peninsula becomes an island over time simply by the force of the tides.
I think it's important that ABT acquired a Forsythe work, and I think the dancers will respond to it well. I'm interested to see what Forsythe means to ballet over the next two decades.
Posted 05 November 2003 - 09:19 AM
(This isn't to say that a company should or shouldn't dance the works; I have no objection to ballet companies doing Forsythe, nor to watching it.)
We've had two Forsythes in DC this season -- In the Middle and Steptext, both very similar in that they give a backstage view of ballet -- and I was also struck by their episodic nature. I wonder if this is a comment on the current stage of ballet, or a more sophisicated approach to what, in lesser hands, looks like MTV-mindset (can't construct anything longer than four minutes). It could be taken as a witty comment, too -- since so many performances these days are rehearsals, why not just put a rehearsal on stage and be done with it!
Posted 10 November 2003 - 12:21 PM
It was filled with abrupt beginnings & endings, and constant changes in speed & direction. Sometimes the dancers movements seemed to be aimless & random, sometimes they developed into patterns, sometimes they wound down and sometimes they ended abruptly. These abrupt stops and starts, the redirections and emergence of patterns (or not) and the dead ends gave the piece a very metaphysical feel to me, like form emerging from chaos.
I thought the ABT dancers all took to the choreography wonderfully (though Iím not familiar with Forsythe, so I donít know if it looks different on his own company). I especially liked Stiefel & Herrera. Herrera seemed more free and relaxed than she ever looks to me in the classical repertory. Itís like she was able to really come into her own once the weight of having to be a ďclassical ballerinaĒ was lifted from her shoulders.
At the very least, this piece captured my attention, drew me into it and made me think about it. A very welcome addition to the repertory.
Posted 10 November 2003 - 09:35 PM
I definitely enjoyed the work and was fascinated by it, though it is difficult to describe or even express my feelings about it. I think for me it would requires more than one viewing for me to start to grasp.
I don't know much about Forsythe's history, and I wanted to ask Alexandra what she meant about Forsythe and his native "dance" language. Is he more considered a "modern" choreographer who wandered into the land of ballet?
Posted 10 November 2003 - 10:09 PM
Posted 11 November 2003 - 12:22 AM
I just wish I liked Forsythe as much as I appreciate his craft & technique, but don't see any humanity in those works I've seen so far. They are too much about alienation & disaffectation. His works are not at all pretentious or untruthful but seem to be all about bodies, kinetics & competition; souls do not enter the equation.
One can look at Agon & see those strengths which Forsythe possesses but Oh what a difference!
Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:43 PM
Forsythe's relationship to ballet seems to change with every piece he does. This work is from 1998, and I think made right before Pas./parts, both of which to me seem to be pieces which utilize more ballet than some of his other works. This one was made on his own company, Pas./parts on Paris Opera Ballet.
As for what about Forsythe inspires the use of the word "classicism?" Call me a relativist (again!) but I'm a believer that history is written by the victor. If this is what this generation wants to label as their high, classical art, then it will be even if we think it isn't remotely classical. And I think that is very possibly his ambition. I used the word classicism because I think that is how he intends it to be put forward.
Posted 11 November 2003 - 05:08 PM
Born in 1949 in New York, William Forsythe was interested early on by modern dance, rock and musical comedy. He subsequently studied ballet on scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School and the School of American Ballet taking additional classes with Maggie Black, Finis Jung, Jonathan Watts, Meredith Baylis, William Griffith, Leon Danelion, Mme. Periaslavic, Mme. Boskovitch, Nolan Dingman, Pat Wilde and Christa Long. In 1970 , he joined the Joffrey Ballet II and later Joffrey 1, before being engaged in 1973 by John Cranko to join the Stuttgart Ballet. ....
During this time, William Forsythe discovered Pina Bausch, forged links with JiřŪ Kylian, and returned regularly to New York, where he remained in touch with intellectual and marginal movements.
During one period, Forsythe's work was very influenced by Bausch, and I think it's significant that "he was interested early on by modern dance, rock and musical comedy." Nothing wrong with that -- but it's not the same history as someone whose introduction to dance was in a ballet class. (And, as Leigh pointed out, the Joffrey at that time also had a very eclectic repertory.)
I feel much as Zerbinetta does about Forsythe's work -- there's definitely a craft and a mind at work, but the emotional range is limited. If the works aren't pretentious, the program notes sure are! And the works I've seen are so episodic that I can't tell how much craft there is, in the sense of structure. I haven't seen a work that develops a theme, or that is more than fragments of athletic movement that hang together.
That said, his dances can be exciting because they are so physical, and you can sense the dancers' excitement to be performing them.
Posted 11 November 2003 - 06:56 PM
he's really investigated the German material -- Laban's theories of swinging, and the possible ranges of movement, and hte possibilities of moving in several directions at he same time -- which were already implicit in African-American polyrhythmed, multicentered dancing, which those of us who loved to dance rock and roll were doing without knowing there was anything theoretically interesting about it....
It's a huge over-simplification to say that when hte postmoderns wee getting interested in walking and rolling over and other everyday movement (doubtless under hte influence of marijuana, which can make the taste of peanut butter fascinating), the example was set for Forsythe to get interested in what good club dancers were pulling off....
There is FANTASTIC dancing going on in nightclubs....
Posted 11 November 2003 - 09:44 PM
I like the dance club metaphor too - it makes me think differently about the textural density that I perceived in the work. Rather than the idea that all of the different dancers cohere into some sort of unity I had difficulty grasping, perhaps instead there is no real unity, only like stars in the sky we project constellations on.
I really think there is something to Forsythe - I immediately loved the Kylian but the Forsythe has made me think much harder.
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