Image: Choreographer William Forsythe © Dominik Mentzos

On 12 April 2018, we will premiere a brand new ballet by William Forsythe, one of the most important choreographers working today, as part of our mixed bill Voices of America. We are honoured to be the first British ballet company he creates a new work for in over 20 years.

Here is the master, in his own words.

On his background

“I dance ballet and I speak it, I could stand up and improvise something for you like a musician could. But actually no, it’s not the mother tongue. I began dancing in clubs and musicals. I come from an entertainment background. I was almost 18 when I began to study ballet and at the same time the Martha Graham technique. When I decided to turn professional, all these influences came together. You can’t separate one from another. In the end the style was maybe ballet with a funk influence.”
Frieze Magazine

On his approach to ballet

“Ballet is Olympian. You can’t fake it. There’s no “sort of.””
Dance Magazine

“[The challenge of ballet] is intellectual and it’s physical. You use your body to solve problems, and these problems are basically physics problems. You develop the skills to solve the challenges of centrifugal force and gravity and balance, plus fulfilling all these aesthetic criteria at the same time — it’s very, very complicated and I liked that.”
The Talks

“It’s a balance thing – the muscle chain alters according to how you use the middle finger of the hand, say, will affect the rotation of the upper arm, which forms a huge chain of muscular reaction – which affects your technique, and finally alters the effect of your dance.”
The Arts Desk

“I had to find my way around Balanchine, Petipa, Cranko, MacMillan, the whole crowd… I realised I had to move on”
Daily Telegraph

William Forsythe's In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated during English National Ballet's dress rehearsal for their Modern Masters triple bill
Crystal Costa & Barry Drummond perform in William Forsythe's In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

On being a choreographer

“My job is to be at the service of talent looking for the right place to practise.”
Financial Times

“I say to the dancers, you must make a discourse when you dance. You have to make a re-affirmation of ballet and yet at the same time bring into question how ballet is danced.”
The Arts Desk (on his piece Artifact)

On his style

“Some 25 years ago, [my style] was not standard but now this is not the case. It’s been adopted, accepted and naturalised. I find it gratifying to watch people do it now, because it’s much more native.”

“[Ballet] doesn’t need modernisation. It’s just a misunderstanding. People associate me with some idea of liberty. Liberty from what? Ballet offers me everything.”
Financial Times

“If dance only does what we assume it can do, it will expire, I keep trying to test the limits of what the word choreography means.”
New York Times