The USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance is bringing on internationally renowned choreographer William Forsythe to join the faculty as a professor in fall 2015 — just in time to greet the new school's first batch of BFA dance majors.
Forsythe, formerly longtime director of Ballet Frankfurt in Germany, has created works for ballet companies around the world, including those in London, Berlin, the Hague, Munich, Paris, New York and San Francisco. USC plans to integrate his choreographic methods into its curriculum for improvisation and composition courses. Forsythe also will serve as artistic advisor of a new Choreographic Institute that the school plans to establish.
“I’m very excited at the prospect of teaching components of choreographic process," Forsythe said in a statement. "I really enjoy the challenge of illuminating the fundamentals of motion and aesthetic analysis.”
Forsythe, 64, will mentor graduate students in the USC International Artist Fellows program. He’ll also work with other schools and centers at USC, such as the Thornton School of Music, the School of Cinematic Arts and the Brain and Creativity Institute, doing research on, among other things, physical movement and its effects on health, the university said.
In terms of the Kaufman School’s greater influence on dance in Los Angeles, Forsythe added: “The potential is significant. There is a push in Los Angeles to make the dance community more interesting, all the time, and in any capacity. In other very established artistic communities like Paris or London there are a few important individuals, but you don’t have the same kind of community drive.”
USC’s dance school, founded in 2012 with a gift from philanthropist Kaufman, was the first new endowment-funded school at the university in 40 years. The last was the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which opened in 1973 with a gift from Walter H. Annenberg.
USC didn’t have a dance school or even a dance major, though it did offer individual dance classes such as ballroom, hip-hop, tango and tap through its theater school.
The Kaufman School broke ground on a 55,000-square-foot complex in April.
Of Forsythe’s appointment, Kaufman said: “He is so open to reinventing what the dancer should learn and how they should approach new ideas and concepts. Having him at USC will allow each student to be fully qualified for any avenue they wish to pursue.”
Originally from Long Island, New York, Forsythe has lived in Europe for more than three decades. Since 2005 he has headed up the Frankfurt-based independent ensemble the Forsythe Company, which performs his newer works internationally and which is supported by the German states of Saxony and Hesse, the cities of Dresden and Frankfurt, and private sponsors.
“Throughout his career, he has worked closely with composers, architects, philosophers, digital animators and sport scientists,” USC Kaufman Dean Robert Cutietta said. “Our strengths as a university match his strengths as an artist, and we are thrilled for him to join our faculty.”
Vice Dean Jodie Gates, the dance school’s director, said Forsythe’s choreography “has transformed the field."
“He has crossed boundaries and discovered commonalities within dance, visual art, architecture and media, among many other disciplines,” Gates said. “This type of scholarly practice and creative thinking through composition and collaboration is what our students will learn in the core curriculum at USC Kaufman.”