William Forsythe

William Forsythe, Black Flags, 2014, readymade industrial robots, silk flags, carbon fiber flagpoles, and steel plates, dimensions variable © William Forsythe. Photo by David Brandt.


William Forsythe is a radical innovator in choreography and dance, revered the world over. Over four decades, he has redefined the very syntax and praxis of his field, exerting unparalleled influence on subsequent generations of artists. Over the course of his singular career, he has developed an extensive repertoire of groundbreaking ballet choreographies and experimental, non-proscenium-based dance-theater works, as well as an open-access digital platform for dance analysis, notation, and improvisation. His works are featured in the repertoire of many of the world’s major ballet companies including Paris Opera Ballet; Mariinsky Ballet, St. Petersburg; Semperoper Ballet, Dresden; Royal Ballet, London; New York City Ballet; San Francisco Ballet; Boston Ballet; and the National Ballet of Canada. Parallel with the evolution of his choreographic performances, Forsythe has worked for over twenty years on installations, film works, and discrete, interactive sculptures which he calls “choreographic objects.”

William Forsythe was born in 1949 in New York. Forsythe was Resident Choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet from 1976 to 1984, and director of the Ballet Frankfurt from 1984 to 2004. He established and directed The Forsythe Company from 2005 to 2015, and was most recently Artistic Advisor to the Paris Opera. He is an Honorary Fellow at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London and holds an Honorary Doctorate from The Juilliard School in New York. Recent solo museum exhibitions include “Proliferation and Perfect Disorder,” Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2006); “Additive Inverse,” 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo (2007); “Focus on Forsythe,” Sadlers Wells, Tate Modern, London (2009); “Transfigurations,” Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2009); “Nowhere and Everywhere,” Museum Folkwang, Germany (2013); “The Fact of Matter,” Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt (2015); and Wanås Konst, Sweden (2017). Beginning in 1989 with a special commission by architect Daniel Libeskind (“The Books of Groningen”), Forsythe has produced numerous installations. Among them include “Tight Roaring Circle,” Artangel, London (1997); “Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time,” Creative Time, New York (2005); and “Black Flags,” SKD—Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (2014–15).  He participated in the Whitney Biennial (1997); Biennale di Venezia (2005, 2009, 2012, 2014); and 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016).

Forsythe has received several awards, including the title of Commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters (1999); Hessische Kulturpreis/Hessian Culture Award (1995); German Distinguished Service Cross (1997); Wexner Prize (2002); Golden Lion of the Biennale di Venezia (2010); Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2012); and Grand Prix de la SACD (2016).

Forsythe currently lives and works in Vermont.