For most dancers, performing (or even watching) William Forsythe’s electric, exaggerated vocabulary is an exhilarating experience. For dancers at Boston Ballet, it will soon be a new norm. Today, the company announced a five-year partnership with the master choreographer starting next season. Although Forsythe will be fresh off his position as associate choreographer at Paris Opéra Ballet this summer, according to a story in The New York Times, preparations have been underway for several years. The dancers have even been workshopping with former Forsythe performer (and Harvard dance director) Jill Johnson to familiarize themselves with his process and style.
So what can dancers and audiences expect? Boston Ballet will add one new Forsythe work to its repertoire for the next five years. Artifact is first up, in February 2017. Although the other works are still being nailed down, artistic director Mikko Nissinen told the Times that he hoped Boston would have the chance to perform works that aren’t often seen in North America. No world premieres have been confirmed, but that doesn’t mean they’re off the table. “Mikko’s support of the work means that the dancers and I can deepen our wonderful relationship,” Forsythe said in a statement to the Times. “And I will have a new home for new ideas.”
It’s a major step for the company, especially these days when many dance institutions want a taste of Forsythe. (Both Pacific Northwest Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago mounted all-Forythe programs in 2015, and he’s also on faculty at the new dance program at the University of Southern California.)
If you’re like me and can’t wait until February, get your Forsythe fix with this clip, featuring footage from a compressed version of Artifact danced by the Dresden Semperoper Ballett, and the choreographer’s thoughts on the work.