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William Forsythe quote


Phaedra392

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I was looking at the website of the Bavarian State Ballet in anticipation of the live streaming of "Paquita" today when I saw this quote, attributed to choreographer William Forsythe: "I don't care so much about choreography, I care about dancing." I searched the web for a context for the quote, but could find nothing.

Assuming that the quote is accurate, I have to wonder what in the world he meant. I realize that Forsythe is a former dancer, so perhaps all he meant is that he prefers being a dancer to being a choreographer. But the quote made me think. It seems to me that anyone interested in dance as an art form, as opposed to dance as a pastime, has to care deeply about the steps. I know that for myself, watching even great dancers is much less pleasurable when the choreography is poor or not to my liking.

I'm wondering if anyone out there has any thoughts on the matter. Ideally, of course, the best experience of dance matches great execution with great choreography. But when you can't have both, does the dancing matter more than the choreography?

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Well, William Forsythe isn't a former dancer but a dancer, and would argue regardless of whether you do or don't become a 'professional', you're either a dancer, or you're not. Part of the reason he has left The Forsythe Company is because the stress of running a full-time troupe was negatively affecting his health, preventing him from dancing. I'm not sure I could explain this quickly and I don't have much time right now, but I'll give it a shot and come back to your question about the importance of quality of choreography later.

One must remember Forsythe has been extremely critical of the lack of recognition dancers receive throughout his career, even going as far to credit his ballets/works as "Choreographed by William Forsythe with...". An amatuer writer is still a writer, a professional writer is a writer, and a writer who stops publishing his or her work is still a writer. They're united in their art, as artists. Dancers don't seem to have that luxury. They just count and make shapes then they retire and become 'normal' people, or non-artists. Misha is very guilty of enabling this, frequently claiming "dancers aren't born, they're made" detracting from - and even hiding - the more natural and creative abilities a dancer has.

Forsythe's work seems to be a response to this stereotype, an assertion that actually, dancers are artists and think as much as they do on stage as they do in the studio, and out of it. Forsythe even believes a choreographer is at the service of the dancer, and never the other way around. Liz LeCompte of The Wooster Group works similarly, weaving together what her artists can - or want to - bring to the stage to develop a piece. Both Forsythe and LeCompte impose parameters which influence what happens during a performance as well, from signals to improvise for x minutes to how to react to specific movements or text (I'm not very familiar with Merce Cunningham but I think his work with chance explored slightly similar territory?), enabling their performers to be conscious on stage - to think.

If you have speakers, Riley Watts very briefly touches on Forsythe's work allowing dancers to 'think' in a workshop on Forsythe's improvisation techniques: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=iotX0Bs1pCM.

Sylvie Guillem has said she doesn't like dancing Balanchine because she feels pushed into a box, and I think that's what Forsythe is referring to (Laurent Hilaire and Guillem are his two biggest influences, after all, and he notes both as special because they're collaborators, i.e., not just executioners). He cares more about allowing a dancer to be in their natural, creative, conscious state, than being boxed in and on autopilot. Of course, it is debatable, Marina Harss noted a recent performance at BAM exerted too much control over his performers, but was it control or being tiven the freedom to dance in the eyes of the dancers?

If it didn't make any sense, apologies! Back for your question later.

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