William Forsythe galvanized the international dance world with his dynamic approach to the art form. Forsythe’s keen interest in the intricacies of choreographic organization informs the breadth of his significant oeuvre. After only a short run during the height of COVID-19, NDT felt it imperative to re-stage this programme that marks a revival of the company’s long relationship with Forsythe. The evening is accompanied by music composed by Forsythe’s longtime collaborator Thom Willems.
12 N, created for NDT 1 in 2021, is an extension of an existing “acapella” quartet that examined the weight of limbs and the choreographic timings that could be derived from that examination. The work’s acoustic accompaniment is derived exclusively from the dancers’ bodies in which all 12 dancers invest in an audible rhythmic exchange and together, carry the responsibility of sustaining their own unaccompanied respiratory score. 12 N is a superb example of Forsythe’s later style, which explores facets of counterpoint emerging from intense ensemble interdependence.
Of Any If And (1995) is an intimate and virtuoso duet delineating a relationship between a couple who are framed by two instances of language which evaporate around them. The first instance is a series of enigmatic sentences uttered by two actors from the rear of the performance space, the second, a cloud of small, text-inscribed panels that descend towards the stage. The panels’ texts are fragments from Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things, written in reverse, in which he described the decomposition of a body. This is one of a series of works Forsythe composed after the death of his wife in 1994. The duet embodies a seriousness of purpose, a forensic intensity in the performers’ bid to engage with classical technique while deconstructing its usual framework.
For all the hazardous torrent of dancers moving relentlessly around metal tables, One Flat Thing, reproduced (2000) is actually a purposeful chapter in Forsythe’s ongoing research into the distension of contrapuntal structure. The work is set up as a linked “machinery” that is created through the interaction of three systems of organization: numerous individual movement themes, a dense system of distributed cueing, and complex alignments of forms and/or movement flow. Although the dancer’s field of action is seriously delimited, the unforgiving maze of tables also offers the unusual possibility of composing interrelated action on three levels.