Raised in New York and initially trained in Florida with Nolan Dingman and Christa Long, William Forsythe danced with the Joffrey Ballet (Chicago) and later the Stuttgart Ballet, where he was appointed Resident Choreographer in 1976. In 1984 he began a 20-year tenure as director of the Ballet Frankfurt. When William Forsythe was appointed artistic director of Ballett Frankurt in 1984 he set out to create challenging original works, which were removed from conventional ballet, and to build a new audience. Since this time, Forsythe has developed a unique ballet aesthetic that does not deny traditional ballet technique but which deconstructs/constructs, dismantles, re-orders, varies, broadens and challenges the lexicon. Based on Forsyth's "Improvisation Technology" his company generates and modifies movement material right up to and including the moment of actual performance "... to overcome the choreography and get back to what the dance really is". Forsythe's key works over the last 20 years include "Gänge" (1982), "Artifact" (1984), "Impressing the Czar" (1988), "Limb's Theorem" (1991), "The Loss of Small Detail" (1991), "A L I E/N A(C)TION" (1992), "Eidos:Telos" (1995), "Endless House" (1999) and "Kammer/Kammer" (2000). After the closure of the Ballett Frankfurt, Forsythe established a new ensemble, The Forsythe Company, which he directed from 2005 to 2015. Forsythe’s most recent works were developed and performed exclusively by The Forsythe Company, while his earlier pieces are prominently featured in the repertoire of virtually every major ballet company in the world.
Forsythe has been commissioned to produce architectural and performance installations by architect-artist Daniel Libeskind (Groningen, 1989), ARTANGEL (London,1997), Creative Time (New York, 2005), and the SKD – Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (2013, 2014). These “Choreographic Objects”, as Forsythe calls his installations, include among others White Bouncy Castle (1997), City of Abstracts (2000), The Fact of Matter (2009), Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2 (2013) and Black Flags (2014). His installation and film works have been presented in numerous museums and exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial (New York, 1997), Festival d’Avignon (2005, 2011), Louvre Museum (2006), Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich (2006), 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo (2007), Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2009), Tate Modern (London, 2009), Hayward Gallery, (London 2010), MoMA (New York 2010), ICA Boston (2011), Venice Biennale (2005, 2009, 2012, 2014), MMK – Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt am Main, 2015) and the 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016.
William Forsythe is a current Professor of Dance and Artistic Advisor for the Choreographic Institute at the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
In October 2014 he presented his choreography ›Study # 3‹ at PACT. In 2018 he was part of the Tanzplattform Deutschland programme with the Dance On Ensemble and their performance ›Catalogue (First Edition)‹.