However you choose to see William Forsythe—willful provocateur, poet of the anti-ballet, master of anarchic beauty—there is no doubt that he has extended the reach and possibility of modern dance as few other contemporary choreographers have done. The three works that compose this programme exemplify the extraordinary range and flavour of his work.
The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is a short, but fiercely demanding work created by the choreographer in 1996 for his Ballet Frankfurt company. Set to the final movement of Schubert’s Ninth Symphony, it demonstrates, as the title suggests, the bracing excitement of pure classical technique, its rigour, focus and speed, and functions as an homage to traditional classical and neo-classical form as perfected by Petipa and Balanchine.
Approximate Sonata 2016 is more subdued Forsythe, a reflective, if no less vigorously athletic, assemblage of intricately shaped and continually surprising pas de deux, set to a hushed, minimalist piano score by Thom Willems.
The Second Detail, an astonishing work that was created for The National Ballet of Canada in 1991, is in many ways quintessential Forsythe—slyly mischievous, athletic and, above all, exhilarating in its love of human movement in all its variety.