Questionnaire: William Forsythe

Q: What do you wish you knew? A: ‘Why I find vacuuming the house so oddly gratifying.’


Untitled, 2017. Courtesy and photograph: William Forsythe

Untitled, 2017. Courtesy and photograph: William Forsythe

What images keep you company in the space where you work?
Nature. I live in a forest.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?
The last movement of George Balanchine’s 1972 choreography to Igor Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto (1931).

If you could live with only one piece of art what would it be?
Nathan Milstein’s 1973 recording of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (1720), especially the Chaconne in D minor.

What is your favourite title of an artwork?
Marcel Duchamp’s Prelude to a Broken Arm (1915).

What should change?
Being inured to ignorance, bigotry and violence.

What should stay the same?
The global temperature. 

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?
Landscape architecture or flower arranging.

What music are you listening to?
Among others: Big Freedia (‘Booty Whop’, 2012), James Blake, Peven Everett, Tommy Genesis (‘Angelina’, 2016),  Nicki Minaj, Alva Noto, Sergei Prokofiev’s piano concertos, A.J. Roach, Arthur Russell, Stravinsky, Jay Z (4:44, 2017).

What are you reading?
Among others: Karl Ove Knausgård,‘My Struggle’ (2009–11); Rudolf von Laban, Choreutics (1966); Maggie Nelson, The Art of Cruelty (2011); Agrippina Vaganova, Basic Principles of Classical Ballet (1946).

What do you like the look of?
Queen Anne’s lace.

What is art for?
To illuminate our natures.

William Forsythe is a choreographer based in Vermont, USA. He was director of Ballet Frankfurt, Germany, from 1984–2004 and the Forsythe Company, Dresden, Germany, from 2005–15. Currently, he is artistic advisor to the Choreographic Institute at the University of Southern California’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, Los Angeles, USA, and associate artist at the Boston Ballet, USA. His solo show, ‘Choreographic Objects’, is at Gagosian Le Bourget, Paris, France, until 22 December.

Issue 191

First published in Issue 191

November - December 2017

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