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Visions and Voices: Celebrate Forsythe: Home

Concert Information

Celebrate Forsythe

Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 
Depart USC at 6pm, return at 10pm

Experience a never-before-seen approach to dance performance as three major US ballet companies (San Francisco, Pacific Northwest, and Houston) share the stage in one distinctive program devoted entirely to the work of acclaimed American choreographer William Forsythe. Widely viewed as the greatest innovator in his field since George Balanchine, Forsythe has revolutionized classical ballet with his bold contemporary works. Forsythe is the artistic advisor at the USC Choreographic Institute at the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. The evening’s program includes Pas/Parts 2016, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, and Artifact Suite.

About William Forsythe

Born and raised in New York City, William Forsythe danced with the Joffrey and Stuttgart ballets before becoming Resident Choreographer with the latter in 1976, then spent twenty years as the director of the Ballet Frankfurt until it closed in 2004.  He then established The Forsythe Company which he directed until 2015, at which point he joined the faculty of the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at USC.  A recipient of many awards and commissions, Forsythe has been hailed as a major proponent for the integration of ballet and visual arts, and his concept of choreography as organizational practice has resulted in the creation of myriad works for performances, installations, and films.

Pas/Parts 2016

From Allan Ulrich's review:

Originally made for the Paris Opéra Ballet in 1999, the ballet was 75 percent rechoreographed for San Francisco. Sunday it seemed dense in detail, yet airy in effect, classical in its language, pointe work and épaulement, yet resolutely contemporary in its sensibility and exploratory in the Forsythe manner. The work is structured in 21 sections. Forsythe has juxtaposed solos with small ensembles, reserving the entire complement, briefly, for the fourth episode and for the finale. The scenic apparatus, although attractive, keeps us focused on the dancing. The dancers’ world is Forsythe’s off-white, three-sided environment, evocatively lit, and it spins on its axis for 37 minutes.

Forsythe Project: 2016 Pas Parts Excerpts (San Francisco Ballet) from The Music Center on Vimeo.

The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude

From Noah D. Gelber's description:

Utilising the soaring final movement from Franz Schubert’s 9th Symphony in C Major, William Forsythe complements the music’s layered intricacies and thunderous bravura with sophisticated complexity and dynamic momentum. [...] As the piece delves relentlessly through a series of riveting solos, duets, trios and group constellations, the audience is offered timeless images well in keeping with traditional interactions between ballerinas and their male counterparts, while individual eccentricities and indulgences are maintained (if not encouraged). [...] It received New York City’s “Best Ballet of the Season” critics’ choice award in 1998 and appears in the repertoires of some of the most world-renowned ballet companies. Insider circles have referred to it as “the most technically difficult ballet ever performed.” Others have found it “the most liberating experience of an entire career.” 


Open to USC students only. Reservations required. 

This trip is for current USC students only. You must use the provided transportation to participate. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Check-in for the event will begin at 5:15 p.m. on campus. Buses will depart at 6 p.m. and return to campus at 10 p.m. Dinner will be provided at check-in.

See for more information

Artifact Suite

Paraphrased from Sarah Crompton's 2012 article in The Telegraph:

Artifact was created in 1984, when Forsythe began consciously to extend the language of ballet into a new fractured, hyper-extended and inquisitive form fit for the late 20th century. “I had to find my way around Balanchine, Petipa, Cranko, MacMillan, the whole crowd,” he says. “I realised I had to move on.” Artifact, a four-act ballet [from which the suite was culled] is a ballet about ballet – or as it has been described: “Bill’s ode to ballet”.

The starting point was the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No 2 in D minor for solo violin, which forms the music for the second act. Forsythe’s rehearsal pianist, at that time, was a woman called Eva Crossman-Hecht, a Juilliard-trained concert pianist. Her “very strict, classical improvisations”, based on the Bach, became the score for the rest of the piece, now transcribed and played live by a single pianist.

Forsythe made the entire piece – for a company of more than 30 dancers – in three weeks, weaving a complex web of thought into the piece. Just as the music is based on the ordered world of Bach, so the choreography is based on the basic elements of ballet technique, with the dancers following the instructions of a ghostly woman in grey: “It is about the process of people imitating one another,” Forsythe explains. “Of replication. That is what one does. One starts by standing behind someone else and imitating what they do.”