A special conversation with legendary choreographer William Forsythe.
Moderated by Dr. Linda Caruso Haviland, Director of Dance and Alice Carter Dickerman Director of the Arts Program at Bryn Mawr College with panelists including...
Presented by Fred Alger Management.
by Jiří Kylián, music by Benjamin Britten
At Various Points
by Matthew Neenan, music by Felix Mendelssohn
by William Forsythe, music by Johann Sebastian Bach & Eva Crossman-Hecht
“A vision of ballet for the 21st century…”
-The San Francisco Chronicle on Artifact Suite
Celebrate the evolution of Pennsylvania Ballet’s repertoire with Company premieres by two of today’s most influential choreographers, plus an exciting World Premiere. Artifact Suite offers William Forsythe's singular brand of aggressive, angular movement. His daring interpretation of the ballet lexicon boasts lightning-quick rhythm, to-the-hilt extension, and unmatched precision. Equally kinetic yet strikingly soulful, Jiří Kylián’s seamless, fluid vocabulary propels his somber Forgotten Land. New to our repertoire, Kylián found inspiration for this piece in a painting of water eroding the shore. Also on the program, Choreographer in Residence Matthew Neenan creates his 14th commission for the Company, At Various Points. An intimate work for four young dancers, At Various Points is set to selections from Felix Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words.
Watch clips from Fold, Collapse, and Shift: Ballet and Beyond in the Choreography of William Forsythe.
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Dancing Forsythe's Dances: from outside in and inside out
Learn more about William Forsythe and his work in this essay written by Dr. Linda Caruso Haviland.
Artifact Suite has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Artifact Suite is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Forsythe’s imagination seems limitless, to judge by the range in his choreographic repertory. Trained in classical ballet, he made his first foray into dance-making at Stuttgart in 1976. After freelancing in Europe and spending 21 years as artistic director of Ballett Frankfurt, the choreographer now creates works for his own Forsythe Company (founded in 2005) and dance companies around the world. His works and performances by his companies have been acknowledged with four of New York’s Bessie Awards and three of London’s Laurence Olivier Awards. In 1999 France bestowed the title of Commandeur des Arts et Lettres on Forsythe; other honors include the German Distinguished Service Cross and the Wexner Prize.
Forsythe approaches the creation of a ballet as an evolutionary process, often revising his works for different companies or dancers. “Bill changes something according to where he is in his life,” says former Forsythe dancer Amy Raymond, who staged Artifact Suite for San Francisco Ballet in 2006, along with Jodie Gates. “The fantastic thing about working with him is that it’s often about whoever is in the room. He responds immediately to the creativity of the people in front of him.”
Jiří Kylián (Czechoslovakia, 1947) started his dance career at the age of nine, at the School of the National Ballet in Prague. In 1962 he was accepted as a student at the Prague Conservatory. He left Prague when he received a scholarship for the Royal Ballet School in London in 1967. After this, he left for the Stuttgart Ballet led by John Cranko. There Kylián made his debut as a choreographer with Paradox for the Noverre Gesellschaft. After having made three ballets for Nederlands Dans Theater (Viewers, Stoolgame, and La Cathédrale Engloutie), he became the company’s artistic director, together with Hans Knill, in 1975. During the 1978 Charleston Festival in the United States Kylián put Nederlands Dans Theater on the international map with Sinfonietta (Leoš Janácek). That same year he and Carel Birnie founded Nederlands Dans Theater 2, which was – and is – meant to give young dancers the opportunity to develop their skills and talents. In 1991 he initiated Nederlands Dans Theater III, the company that created opportunities for ‘older’ dancers. During the second half of the 1980s, Kylián’s artistic view turned away from lyrical works to abstract and often surrealistic ballets known as his famous “black and white ballets,” including No More Play (1988), Falling Angels (1989), Sweet Dreams (1990), Sarabande (1990), and Petite Mort (1991).
With the advent of Nederlands Dans Theater III, Nederlands Dans Theater stood out as the first company worldwide that showed the three dimensions of a dancer’s life, which was unique in the world of dance. After an extraordinary record of service Kylián handed over the artistic leadership in 1999, but remained associated to the dance company as house choreographer.
Jiří Kylián has created 101 ballets so far, 74 of which were for Nederlands Dans Theater. His work is performed by companies and schools all over the world. Besides Nederlands Dans Theater, Kylián has also made works for the Stuttgart Ballet, the Paris Opéra, the Munich Bayrisches Staatsballett, Swedish television, and the Tokyo Ballet. He has worked with many creative personalities of international stature: composers Arne Nordheim (Ariadne, 1997), Toru Takemitsu (Dream Time, 1983) and Tomoko Mukaiyama (Tar and Feathers, 2006) and designers Walter Nobbe (Sinfonietta, 1978), Bill Katz (Symphony of Psalms, 1978), John Macfarlane (Forgotten Land, 1980), Michael Simon (Stepping Stones, 1998), Atsushi Kitagawara (One of a Kind, 1998), Susumu Shingu (Toss of a Dice, 2005) and Yoshiki Hishinuma (Zugvögel, 2009). His choreographic masterpiece BIRTH-DAY was originally performed by Nederlands Dans Theater III. Described as a mix of dance/drama and film, this choreography was a co-production of Hebbel Theater, Berlin, where it premiered in 2001. In the summer of 2006, together with director Boris Paval Conen, he made a film entitled CAR-MEN. It was choreographed ‘on location’ in the open brown coal mines of the Czech Republic.
On 12 February 2008 Last Touch First premiered in the Korzo theatre in The Hague. This was a co-production of the Holland Dance Festival, Nederlands Dans Theater and the Steps Festival in Switzerland, and was realized in collaboration with Michael Schumacher, Sabine Kupferberg and other former dancers of Nederlands Dans Theater. The latest work Kylián made for Nederlands Dans Theater was Gods and Dogs (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 13 November 2008). On 3 May 2009 Kylián created the full evening’s production Zugvögel on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich. Participants in this production were Yoshiki Hishinuma (costumes), Michael Simon (light), Dirk Haubrich (music), Boris Paval Conen (film), and Han Otten (film music).
In the course of his career Kylián has received many international awards and honors, including Officer of the Royal Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau, honorary doctorate of the Juilliard School in New York, three Nijinsky Awards in Monte Carlo (best choreographer, company, and work), Benois de la Danse in Moscow and Berlin, Honorary Medal from the President of the Czech Republic and Chevalier du Légion d’Honneur in France. In June 2008 Kylián was awarded the ‘Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement’ of the Venice Biennale during the sixth international festival of contemporary dance. On 2 December 2008 Her Majesty the Queen presented him with the Medal of the Order of the House of Orange for Arts and Science. For Gods and Dogs (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 2008) he received the VSCD Zwaan awards for most impressive dance production and most impressive dance achievement 2009. On top of that, he received the Prix Italia 2009 film award, together with the NPS broadcasting company, for the film version of Wings of Wax. The ballet Mémoires d’Oubliettes marked the end of his work for Nederlands Dans Theater in 2009.
Together with visual artist Jason Akira Somma (USA) he created Anonymus – a dance and video installation on the occasion of the opening of the Cadance Festival in 2011, Korzo Theater, The Hague, Holland.