»Events»Unexpected Intimacy: William Forsythe’s Alignigung (2016) and German Integration
Unexpected Intimacy: William Forsythe’s Alignigung (2016) and German Integration
William Forsythe continues to embark on new aesthetic territory by exploring choreographic objects—not necessarily related to a body ‘but rather an alternative site for the understanding of potential instigation and organization of action to reside’. Exploring this concept, his screendance Alignigung (2016) focuses on two male dancers who intertwine their entire bodies into the other resulting in ‘optical puzzles’ and a ‘threading’ aesthetic. One striking aspect is the dancers’ contrasting skin colour: The darker-complexioned Rauf “RubberLegz” Yasit is a Berlin-based breakdancer with Kurdish roots; his movement partner is the fair-skinned red-headed American Riley Watts. While one could read both as contrasting, choreographic objects, I believe Forsythe makes the viewer reflect on ideas of intimacy, paradox, and the grandness of minutiae particularly in light of current global politics—immigration and refugees in Germany. Forsythe’s continual interest in abstract ideas and political discourse has forced him to unexpectedly engage with contemporary and hybrid forms of dance.
Forsythe uses filmic techniques such as tracking shots and cuts to confound the viewer, who must ponder the dancers’ paradoxical positioning. The intense focus on the slow-moving dancers awakens the spectator to every minute movement. I will explore how the notion of intimacy, flexibility, paradox, and minutiae metaphorically play a role in the integration of foreigners into Germany. By naming the dance Alignigung, Forsythe not only experiments aesthetically with dynamic, bodily alignments but incorporates (latent) political discourses on the possibilities and conflicts of unexpected integration.
Wesley Lim is a Lecturer in German Studies in SLLL and is working on a book project entitled Dancing with the Modernist City: Metropolitan Dance Texts around 1900.