Monday, December 2, 2019

Forsythe Method

Rebekah Lane hosted a three hour workshop on the Forsythe Method of movement for actors at the Valencia East Campus. In this three hour workshop, the movement improvisation tools developed by choreographer William Forsythe were explored.

Forsythe danced with the Joffrey Ballet and then with the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany, where he was eventually appointed resident choreographer. In 1984, he became director of Ballet Frankfurt. During the next 20 years he created what would become his signature ballets: Artifact (his first full-length while at Ballet Frankfurt), In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated (made for the Paris Opéra Ballet) and The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude.

Movements were created by drawing imaginary shapes in the air, and then the dancer or actor would run their limbs through this complicated and invisible three dimensional geometry. As a visual artist I was fascinated by this visual use of space. In my sketch, students snap their fingers at the corners of three dimensional box shapes floating in the space in front of them. Or, hold the form with their open palms.

Though only the dancer might see the shape they were creating, they moved around and through the shape as if it existed. What it boils down to in performance, is the dancer illustrating the presence of these imagined relationships by moving, and in the process discovering new ways of moving.

Movement and character impulses were taken from images and expanded into phrases and full movement scenes. This workshop was appropriate for all movers, dancers and actors included.
Illustrations were used to inspire students in the second half of the class.  They created movements that told the story that the images inspired. Students worked as teams and then individually to tell these stories in movement.

It was amazing to watch these performers expand their idea of how to use their bodies and movements to explore space. It is amazing how the language of creation is so similar across art disciplines. Lines are the basic building blocks of any sketch, and it turns out they are critical in analyzing movement. The workshop was sponsored by Valencia College Theater and Valencia College Student Development.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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