The American dancer and choreographer William Forsythe is one of the representers of modern ballet and dance. His work is always experimenting with “body and space”. His Forsythe Company, founded in 2005, is his omnipresent environment – with the 17 dancers involved, Forsythe constantly works on new productions in terms of art exhibitions, installations, filming and – of course – dance. The company is “company-in-residence” in Hellerau, the European Center of Arts in Dresden, where a revival of a piece from 2003, was recently performed: Decreation. I was amongst the audience.
“What if you would love another more than you love me? What if I would love another more than I love you? What if another would love me more than you love me?” Those three questions are the center of all events in Forsythes “Decreation” and the dancers examine them in any possible way: with bizarre sound, extreme body tension, disturbing moves, romantic love songs … The dancers constantly create and break new atmospheres, while exploring all aspects and relations between love and communication.
The performance starts with a combination of monologue and dialogue – a female dancer pulls her shirt from one side to the other, imitating an arguing couple. Trust, love, belief – it is clear, that this argument is about an affair; loyalty are misconceptions of each other are discussed in an aggressive and shrieking manner … an argument, which should be familiar to all that have been in a relationship. One could say, Forsythe picks up a very universal theme – love, and the misunderstandings and miscommunication in relationships – and transforms it in his own way. Decreation may seem like a grotesque caricature of the evilness and complications of a thing, that is otherwise considered so sweet, beautiful and innocent. Especially when later a male dancer joins in the argument and the dialogue evolves into a “Spiel” – a play – as one of the dancers says, a hysterical drama – and love is equally described as such. Decreation goes on without a clear story line. The single phrases repeat themselves constantly throughout the piece, but even though one could try to bring them into order, as a dialogue, an argument, a conversation – one simply has to fail, as arguments perpetually turn and contradict themselves: “I believe. – In what? – In us. – There is no us. But I believe! – In what? – In us! – There is no us.” Anger, jealously, passion and loneliness are expressed in alternately big, raging, aggressive and disturbing movements or complete silence, with bodies over-stretching to the shrieking music on the black stage floor – in addition to the provocative language and masturbatory scenes. Forsythe also explores the aspect of triangular relationships in his piece – gender doesn’t play a role though, so either two men and one woman or one woman and two men are exposed to the spectators in their fight for passion, attention and love. The piece ends after a scene full of pain and bitterness: a female dancer rolls around desperately on a black table, smearing black paint into her face in a movement of agony and suffering, while the other dancers sit around the table, watching alternately in silence or with loud shouting and screaming. This scene was supposed to reflect, how the pain in relationships are often viewed by others like a theatre play, a drama one goes to watch and leaves when it is over. It shows, how the participation and involvement of others in our own emotions changes us and our own conception of such- and when the others loose interest in our torn soul we realize, that after all, life goes on.
Pieces and performances by Forsythe are never easy to describe and the atmosphere of Decreation was so abstract, so experimenting, absurd and grotesque, that it is even harder. Forsythe is definitely one of the big artists of our time. In my eyes his work is simply brilliant.