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After 20 Years, William Forsythe Creates a New Ballet for an American Company

Boston Ballet in rehearsal with William Forsythe. Liza Voll, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

In 2016, Boston Ballet officially brought William Forsythe back to the U.S. after the revolutionary choreographer's four-decade European career. A five-year partnership with the company promises that Forsythe will add at least one piece to its repertoire each year, and it gives him an American home base for creating new work. Boston Ballet's Full on Forsythe program, March 7–17, features the world premiere of Playlist (EP), his first new ballet for an American company in more than two decades, as well as Pas/Parts 2018 and the North American premiere of Blake Works I.


Playlist (EP) expands on Playlist (Track 1,2), a showstopper for 12 men that premiered at English National Ballet last April. For the "extended play" version, Forsythe is revisiting the initial sections and adding three new movements incorporating female dancers. The ballet, featuring music by Abra and Cole King with Tunji Ige, is classically based but infused with the spirit of hip hop, house, R&B and funk. Forsythe says the intricate rhythms and counterpoint of these popular musical styles "support strict balletic structures really well...This is actually quite a traditional approach but looks fresh because we are unaccustomed to hearing these particular musical genres function as the foundation for works whose contents are exclusively balletic." He hopes that the juxtaposition of contemporary popular music with classical ballet will reinforce for audiences the relevance of the art form.

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