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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Forsythe's Staggering Works of Heartbreaking Genius

William Forsythe is one of those artists who crosses genres as easily as crossing the street. While known primarily as a choreographer, he has tried his hand in vastly different disciplines ranging from performance art to installation sculpture to computer imaging. Here are some favorite Forsythe projects:

Scattered Crowd, an installation created by thousands and thousands of white balloons, demonstrates that Ms. Belinda Carlisle was right: Ooh. Heaven Is A Place on Earth.

Synchronous Objects
is a web project that converts dance movements into stunning visualizations that are works of art in and of themselves. Who knew spatialized data could look like a 3D Kandinsky painting?

Here’s an incredible clip from Forsythe’s upcoming Next Wave show I don’t believe in outer space (Oct 26—29), a meditation on mortality set to lyrics of disco songs.

(Dorky aside: I can’t get enough of the ping-pong game without the ball, because it reminds me of the tennis match in Blow-up, Antonioni’s tragically hip masterpiece.)

In One Flat Thing Reproduced, dancers seemingly defy the laws of physics while moving seamlessly through a maze of tables.

One could never accuse Forsythe of being lazy. His forays into different disciplines continually energize his work in order to create something truly new. His work does break rules—lots of them—but Forsythe isn't weird for the sake of being weird or rule-breaking just for the sake of being edgy. It's emotional and thoughtful, and he demands so much effort, discipline and dedication from his dancers that the end result is always exciting to watch. His work expands the definition of dance, and makes you think about ordinary life differently.

In his 1970 book I Seem to be a Verb, Buckminster Fuller wrote: "I live on Earth at present, and I don't know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe."

William Forsythe? Definitely a verb.

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