Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler.
Former director of Frankfurt Ballet (1984-2004), Forsythe is recognised as one of the world’s foremost choreographers and widely credited with revitalising classical ballet for the twenty-first century. His choreographic vocabulary has redefined body, space, time and movement. Starting in 1994, Volker Kuchelmeister and Chris Ziegler collaborated with Forsythe and the ZKM Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Institute for Visual Media to produce a prototypical interactive application to visualise and explain Forsythe’s improvisation techniques to a wider audience. This prototype, The loss of small detail, was very well received and subsequently the ZKM, Frankfurt Ballet and the German Dance Archive in Cologne (Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln) funded the production of the interactive training installation for professional dancers. This version was released in 1996 as Improvisation Technologies (Self Meant to Govern).
Forsythe’s video lectures are augmented with computer generated and animated shapes, forms and figures to illustrate the choreographer’s improvisation techniques and theoretical principles. References to moments in actual stage performances and demonstrations from Frankfurt Ballet company dancers, improvising on the theory lecture themes, close the circle reaching from theory to practice. This conceptual framework proved very effective as a didactic tool.
In 1999 the Improvisation Technologies was released as an interactive CD-ROM with book Improvisational Technologies. A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye. This edition features some 60 video chapters in which Forsythe demonstrates and comments upon the essential principles of his motional language. Examples, danced by members of the Frankfurt Ballet, can be called up as required. Also included is a solo performance by Forsythe, filmed in 1996 by Thomas Lovell Balogh. The CD-ROM was later published in Japan, and the English version is in its third edition as of October 2011. In 2011, the Forsythe Company commissioned Kuchelmeister, Ziegler and Haffner to produce a filmic version with selected video lectures in a higher quality then what was possible back in 1996. This version Lectures from Improvisation Technologies is to be shown in museums and exhibitions and is currently (October 2011) exhibited at the Centre Pompidou Paris and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston.
“On the CD-ROM, Forsythe gives us keys to the base of his improvisation methods, opening a broader realm of understanding and appreciation of his achievement. Furthermore, the creators of the CD-ROM themselves have developed a methodology of description—a unique design interface—that effectively embodies and elucidates these improvisation technologies. This makes the CD-ROM a Forsythian work in its own right, in which his associates (dancers, designers, programmers, and editors) perform under his direction with the semantic and sensuous virtuosity that distinguishes his choreographical work.” Jeffrey Shaw, 1999
To translate Forsythe’s commentary and teaching, the multi-media training application was developed with a uniquely clear structure, reduced design and simple navigation. It is credited as one of the best implementations of a screen based interactive training tool, was exhibited over 90 times around the world, and has won multiple prestigious awards.