News: Ballett Frankfurt

Friday 7 April 2006

After a meeting with the officials from the City of Frankfurt, Ballett Frankfurt made the following announcement:

“In a conversation with Frankfurts Lord Major Petra Roth, which was held in a constructive atmosphere, Ballett director William Forsythe, treasurer Horst Hemzal and cultural minister Dr. Nordhoff discussed the situation of Frankfurt´s municipal stages.
The general intention of the conversation was to find realistic solutions for Ballett Frankfurt with William Forsythe, also for the time period after 2004. With regard to the financial situation of the city, all possibilities are being considered.
Representatives of the municipal authorities made it clear that a further increase of the budget for the municipal stages must be excluded due to the city’s extremely difficult financial situation. Strict discipline must be adhered to and the planned budget restrictions need to be kept. It was furthermore stated that the artistic rank of Ballett Frankfurt and William Forsythe is undisputed.”

William Forsythe
(Director of Ballett Frankfurt)
Read more in:

Alan Riding, New York Times, 3 Jun. 02
faces closure as Frankfurt councillors threaten to withdraw funding. It seems that the company, and its Director William Forsythe in particular, have been the subject of smear campaigns in the local press in recent weeks. Although no official statement has been made, Forysthe is due to meet council officials next week and has been warned by insiders that his contract would not be renewed when it runs out in 2004. It seems that they would like to replace Ballett Frankfurt with a traditional, classical, “story telling” company.

Ballett Frankfurt attracted huge crowds to Sadler’s Wells last autumn with Eidos:Telos and Artifact.

William Forysthe has talked to the Telegraph:

“Hardly any of these councillors have seen my work; the mayor came once. It’s unbearable that decisions determining the relevance of international cultural institutions should be assigned to those with little understanding or even affection for the arts.”

Ismene Brown, Telegraph, 30 May 02
And Nadine Meisner writes in the Independent: “According to the newspaper Die Welt, Frankfurt is clamping down on innovative artistic companies in general because the city is in dire financial straits. But Forsythe also sees his company’s projected closure against a background of creeping conservatism in German politics, the result of commercial, monied influence.
He contends that the people wielding this influence believe there are two categories of art, eigentlich or uneigentlich – “correct art” or “incorrect art” – and Forsythe’s work belongs to the second.
Forsythe sees the campaign as stemming from a political agenda designed to eject “incorrect art” and please the conservative tastes of influential sponsors and patrons. “They want ballet as part of the fine-dining experience, something like Swan Lake that won’t disturb their dinner conversation or give them indigestion.”
Nadine Meisner, Independent, 31 May 02 Sadler’s Wells writes in support:

Dear Frau Petra Roth, the Mayor of the City of Frankfurt
As Director of Programming for Sadler’s Wells, Britain’s premier dance house, I am compelled to protest against the proposed closure of Ballett Frankfurt. The Company led by William Forsythe is the jewel of the international contemporary ballet world. It has been pivotal in building crucial, new audiences for dance and for inspiring a fresh generation of choreographers.

Ballett Frankfurt represents everything that is contemporary, daring, intelligent and stimulating in dance. There are dozens of other dance companies producing story ballets – the world doesn’t need another one.

Many ballet companies around the world perform William Forsythe’s ballets, many more want to, but only Ballet Frankfurt dance Forsythe’s works as they were conceived.

I stand with the British dance world in calling on Frankfurt to maintain the city’s outstanding ballet company lead by the visionary William Forsythe.

Yours faithfully

Alistair Spalding

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