The very sad story of William Forsythe and his postmodern pain; a review of "I don't believe in outer space'
by Tom Ferraro
October 29, 2011 -- Brookly Academy of Music, New York
Europe’s postmodern darling, William Forsythe, returned to BAM with a vengeance this week to give us the bewildering ballet, “I don’t believe in outer space.” This is best characterized as yet another one of Forsythe’s struggles with the idiom of ballet. But to call this a ballet is really a stretch. It contains no narrative story line, no music and not many ballet steps either.
It is abundantly clear that William Forsythe is now more involved with Dance Theater than dance alone, but without the charm and beauty that we have grown accustomed to with a Bausch piece. He gave us some slow motion ping pong and a fairly touching finale where he talked about having “no more walks, no more wind, no more tree roots, etc.”
It is said that Forsythe is now learning calculus and this will probably be integrated in to his next piece. I truly hope that he comes across the formula that Dance equals Teaching plus Entertainment. We can all see that he tries hard to be our postmodern teacher, borrowing heavily from Roland Barthes, Foucault and Derrida. This is all well and good. We all know about postmodern despair and how it feels with all its confusing speed and fragmentation. But let us hope he reads a little Phyllis Greenacre along the way. She was that famous psychoanalyst who studied artists and finally concluded that the artist’s job is to grab ahold of the culture’s sadness and convert it into something whole and good and beautiful. This is what Virginia Woolf did. This is what Pina Bausch did and let’s hope that this is what William Forsythe will learn to do in time as well. Until then. be warned that an evening with William Forsythe will prove to be lots of fun for William and his dancers but not much fun for the audience.
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