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  • William Forsythe ★★★★


William Forsythe ★★★★

Forsythe's choreography returns to the Deutsche Oper and "shines with incredible kinetic intensity".

Photo: Yan Revazov

How rare it is to see such joy on stage as when the dancers in William Forsythe’s Blake Works I wiggle. You cannot help but revel in their side-to-side swaying to James Blake’s ‘I Hope My Life’, a neat subversion of the verticality of traditional ballet, and even more so in the radiating warmth that breaks out from the machine-like discipline that propels even modern ballet.

Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, essential members of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, once clucked that modern body culture had “enslaved itself to the gigantic apparatus”. However, in this evening’s sample of work from the innovative choreographer Forsythe, who led the avant-garde Ballet Frankfurt until the city cancelled its funding, you can see him seeking to return the human to this endeavour.

Approximate Sonata 2016, the opening pas de deux, does suffer from a certain stiffness in relation to the minimalist music’s dexterity. Even as it intelligently makes the human cost of ballet visible, its own daring is overmatched by the music of Thom Willems. However, One Flat Thing, reproduced, also scored by Willems, shines with incredible kinetic intensity, beginning with the dancers thundering out of the shadows pushing rows of tables. Here, human and table legs intermingle, dancers leaping over and swinging under the furniture, achieving new forms with the tabletops’ lateral planes.

Throughout, Forsythe lays bare the work of dance, but the performance is at its best when the dancers are moving so fast that they seem to eject from ballet entirely – finding, for a moment amidst the controlled frenzy, a kind of ecstatic freedom. 

  • William Forsythe (d: William Forsythe) Apr 1, 6 & 9, Deutsche Oper. details.