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In a thread about this nice review in the Economist on William Forsythe


I ran across this statement:

“This is William Forsythe, an American choreographer and probably the most influential dance-maker working today”

I like Forsythe’s work very much, and think he’s doing interesting things on the edge of contemporary ballet, but the claim being made, that he’s the “most influential,” felt like a writing convention, a way for the author to get to the point she/he is actually trying to make.

But I was curious -- what elements would go into choosing the “most influential” choreographer, and which artists might arguably be in considered for that description?

I don’t think we’re talking just about the quality of their work on its own, but whether you can see parts of it replicated or echoed in other repetoires. Would this person have had to mentor other choreographers, or is leading by example enough? Is it about having “alumni” working in other venues, or can you influence people you’ve never worked with?

What other aspects of this am I missing? And who might we eventually be discussing?

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Very interesting and important questions. My first thought -- not really an "answer" -- is kind of obvious: that the more one's work is visible in performance all around the world, the more one is likely to be taken seriously, and possibly copied.

Taking Forsythe as an example, he most popular ballets are in the repertories of an astonishing number and range of companies, from ballet Everests like the Kirov and Paris to small regional and even local companies. (I posted a list today on the previous Forsythe thread.)

I don't know the process by which this happened with a relatively young man like Forsythe. Balanchine, on the other hand, was a legend before his work had any kind of significant dispersion.

Incidently, I love that phrase concerning Forsythe: "on the edge of contemporary ballet." It certainly rings true, though in this case the "edge" of one thing seems to be the epicenter of something else.

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I was looking through a file of press releases for some local dance presenters, and realized that I'd seen Jiri Kylian in almost every release -- either as a work on a program, or more frequently, as a teacher/artistic director for schools and ensembles that other choreographers were associated with. (and if you can follow that messy sentence) perhaps that's an indicator of "influence" -- the number of times you find someone on the family tree.

I'm not sure, but how many ensembles are lead by alumni of Forsythe's companies? I know John Alleyne in Vancouver, British Columbia-- who else?

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