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 Post subject: The controversial Mr Forsythe
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 2:08 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
In the space of a week, I have read two sharply contrasting views of Forsythe. It's not a surprise, as Forsythe is a controversial figure among critics and fans. What do you think?:

Forsythe sweeps the board
By Raymond Stults for The Moscow Times

"..."Forsythe at the Mariinsky" as the most thrilling display of dance likely to be found in Russia today.

Beyond noting its intricacy, speed and uncanny correspondence to the music behind it, Forsythe's choreography virtually defies description, as does the Mariinsky company's amazing ability to dance steps far removed from their normal classical routine. It all needs to be seen..."

click for more

***************************

Three Visions of Community
by Susan Reiter for Dance View Times

Then there was William Forsythe's "Limb's Theorem Part III," full of his trademark dim lighting, fragmented bursts of high-voltage ballet steps that go nowhere, and of course set to an industrial-strength score by frequent collaborator Thom Willems.

It's a heartless, disembodied world that Forsythe creates onstage, with its of high-tech distractions to disguise the fact that the dancing itself, in brief, disjointed bursts, is ultimately just busy and aimless, another element in his deluded grand scheme.

click for more

<small>[ 16 April 2005, 07:02 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The controversial Mr Forsythe
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 7:47 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:01 am
Posts: 25
Location: New York City
Well, it is interesting because I have extreme responses in one direction or the other to different works of Forsyth's. The middle section of Eidos: Telos for several years has been one of my favorite things I've ever seen. Because it was so powerful, I accepted the other two sections surrounding it; I also had a vague suspicion that his collaboration with Dana Caspersen might have had something to do with its strength.

Then I saw his last show at BAM and was miserable. It seemed like all hyper-articulated movement with no discernible expressive meaning, basically the development of a fetish in movement. The rhythms of the choreography were all the same. I was annoyed by the almost unacknowledged over-investment in glamour that I felt from the performers in the absence - and maybe to the contradiction of - real substance. One of my friends commented that the big piece at the end with all the tables that was such a crowd-pleaser reminded him of the lunchroom scene in Fame. Another said "well, in terms of movement, he can and just did do Everything. Now I wish he would do Something."

But then I saw the Juilliard show with that section of Limb Theorem and was giddy with joy and excitement - again, one of my favorite pieces ever. I loved the randomness of its arrangement, the anarchic shuffling and reshuffling of imagery, which to me - the way he handled it - seemed to much more closely reflect the experience of modern life than classical symmetry. And then the power of the groups and figures moving through it with this elemental, earthy, jazz-like movement contrasted with the hyper-mobility and decadence of the articulated ballet-ish thing - I thought it was so powerful, and just fabulous really. I felt heartened once more that somebody in the most visible realms of dance was so able to reflect a truly contemporary aesthetic in terms of organizing time and space, and the flow of experience. And the music was so grand...

SO there you have it - an artist that seems to miss the mark entirely in huge chunks of his body of work, and in others be absolutely unforgettable and essentially seminal in what he presents. But to me, ultimately the successes - even if they are very few - justify the existence of the failures. It's hard to say anything at all in art. And whatever it takes to spit out something crucial and essential - well, I support that, but yes, the inconsistencies are interesting to contemplate.

Good topic.

<small>[ 16 April 2005, 09:50 AM: Message edited by: FionaM ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The controversial Mr Forsythe
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 8:18 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Quote:
But to me, ultimately the successes - even if they are very few - justify the existence of the failures. It's hard to say anything at all in art. And whatever it takes to spit out something crucial and essential - well, I support that, but yes, the inconsistencies are interesting to contemplate.
So true.

I've said many times that you have to sit through hundreds of bad works from new choreographers to find the next amazing, fresh or profound work -- that one work makes it all worthwhile.

I was at the closing festivities of the WAX studio and theater last year (in which Fiona M also performed). The locquacious emcee kept roasting the studio's WAXWorks series for producing painful works and compared it unfavorably to a mugging. "In a mugging, you lose $5 but it happens quickly." There's some truth to that but if you always play it safe and never explore the unknown, you won't make discoveries.

I applaud all those -- producers, choreographes and especially the brave audiences -- who push the envelope on a regular basis.


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 Post subject: Re: The controversial Mr Forsythe
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 5:11 am 
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Posts: 130
Location: Southwick, MA, USA
The link below takes the reader to a review written by Laura Jacobs for the February, 1999, Vol.17, issue of New Criterion.

As its title, Meaningless Enchainements, suggests Jacobs puts Forsythe in the Hoax category- or something close to it- of art.

Although Questia is a members only on-line library, it allows non-members a limited look around. One hopes that this link will allow non-members that look around.

http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?action=openPageViewer&docId=5001255743

<small>[ 17 April 2005, 07:11 AM: Message edited by: S. E. Arnold ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The controversial Mr Forsythe
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:19 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Many thanks for this link S.E. Arnold and as a result, I have found the original link:

http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/17/feb99/jacobs.htm

"Both Forsythe and Neumeier are pretentious as hell—it’s a prerequisite for working in Europe..."

Despite the elegance of most of Jacobs' prose, geocentric statements like this and phrases, thankfully not used by Jacobs, such as "Eurotrash", do diminish any writer so much in my eyes that it's difficult to take anything they say seriously.

There's no question that Forsythe is more attracted to an academic writing style and collaboration with academics than most of his peers, but he has a history of kindness and sympathy to artists and students, including poor kids in Brazil, that belies the accusation "pretentious".

To hear or read Forsythe himself, there is a good interview from BBC Radio3:

Listen live here

or read a transcript here

<small>[ 17 April 2005, 03:43 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The controversial Mr Forsythe
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 11:01 am 
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Location: New York City
But you know, guys, it makes me think. Seems like artists (Tere O'Connor maybe, Merce Cunningham, some others) in my opinion don't really do bad work. It's always fascinating and worthwhile. Other artists do lots of really bad or at least unrealized work, or even just pleasantly ho-hum work, and then come up with a few things that are incredible, and to me that feels worth the time, both for them to labor at their careers, and for us to be patient as audience members and sit through the tedium of their development.

I remember Penny Arcade at one of her shows quoted somebody or other saying "If you want to be a good artist, you have to be willing to be a bad artist for 20 years." And to me that's preferable to doing easily successful, facile work...but then we all have our roles to play in this world...


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 Post subject: Re: The controversial Mr Forsythe
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 11:59 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
FionaM wrote:
but then we all have our roles to play in this world...


True... and the world will always remember the ones who dare to think and to push boundaries. Why for example are some historical personalites, including artists and leaders, remembered more than others? I would like to believe it wasn't because they played it safe but that they are remembered for the few amazing things they achieved amidst scores of attempts and failures.

Hmm, I remember reading quotes from prominent figures of the 17th century referring to Galileo as a pretentious and arrogant heretic or something close to that effect. Minds back then were too small to comprehend the significance of the Copernican theories which Galileo supported. It wasn't until 1992 (!!!) that the Catholic Church absolved him. Society may not understand the true impact of Forsythe for several decades.

Humans evolve and develop through exploration and experimentation.


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