Sharp and witty comment on the arts world

The Returns

Dutch premiere

William Forsythe, The Forsythe Company

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With a clairvoyant Asian manicurist as guide and a lavishly costumed supporting cast of agents, shamans, patrons, parrots and pirates, The Returns takes its audience on a rakish tour of art culture. Art as commodity and fetish, the artist as medium and charlatan, the art market as salon and playing field – Forsythe’s caustic, ribald Defilée of archetypes and attitudes grants its audience no quarter.
Programme Icoon


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"Pulling a homage like this out of his hat while giving a dig to the ballet and linking it all to his own idiom -- only an unwavering trailblazer like Forsythe can carry this off."

Dorion Weickmann, Süddeutsche Zeitung

Background Information

With The Returns, the groundbreaking American choreographer William Forsythe (1949) delivers a critical and humorous commentary on the art world. Forsythe first came to the Holland Festival in 2008, with two performances, Decreation and Kammer/Kammer. Last year, the Holland Festival presented one of his most exceptional yet seldom staged works, Quintett (1993), performed by Benjamin Millepied's dance company LA Dance Project. The Returns premiered in 2009, is another of his rarely performed choreographies. Up until now it has only been staged in Dresden and Frankfurt, the reason being the piece’s specific demands concerning the performance venue.

In The Returns, a clairvoyant manicurist (played by Yoko Ando) takes the audience along on a rakish tour of art culture, a world inhabited by lavishly costumed agents, patrons, parrots and pirates. In a white setting reminiscent of a fashion atelier or a modern art gallery, art is presented as commodity and fetish, the artist as a middleman or charlatan, the art market as a salon where other people's work is mindlessly tinkered with. Forsythe and his eighteen performers poke fun not only at the art world in general, but the vanity in the world of ballet and dance as well. Forsythe shows us his ruthless side with The Returns, manipulating the laws of dance in his inimitable way.

The music is by Dietrich Krüger, Sebastian Rietz and Thom Willems. As well as the choreography, Forsythe is also in charge of set design and wardrobe for this performance (wardrobe in collaboration with Stephen Galloway and Dorothee Merg), which recycles 30 years of the company’s costumes and a huge selection of objects from home building stores.


The American dancer and choreographer William Forsythe (1949) is regarded as one of the most influential innovators within contemporary dance. His work is acknowledged for reorienting the practice of ballet from its identification with classical repertoire to a dynamic 21st century art form. Forsythes deep interest in the fundamental principles of organisation has led him to produce a wide range of projects including Installations, Films, and Web based knowledge creation.

Forsythe trained at the Jacksonville University in Florida and the School of American Ballet in New York. He danced with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. In 1976 he moved to Stuttgart to become the house choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet. In 1984 he became director of the Ballett Frankfurt. In 2004 he formed his own ensemble, The Forsythe Company. His work has received international acclaim, having received three Bessie Awards, two Laurence Olivier Awards and the Nijinsky Award. In collaboration with media specialists and educators, Forsythe has developed new approaches to dance documentation, research, and education. His 1994 computer application Improvisation Technologies: A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye, developed with the ZKM / Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, is used as a teaching tool by professional companies, dance conservatories, universities, postgraduate architecture programs, and secondary schools worldwide. 2009 marked the launch of Synchronous Objects for One Flat Thing, reproduced, a digital online score developed with The Ohio State University that reveals the organisational principles of the choreography and demonstrates their possible application within other disciplines. Synchronous Objects is the pilot project for Forsythe's Motion Bank, a research platform focused on the creation and research of online digital scores in collaboration with guest choreographers. In 2010, he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale.

His work has been performed regularly at the Holland Festival. In 2011, one of Forsythe's choreographies featured in Bill & Mr. B. and the choreographic installation City of Abstracts was staged at Amsterdam's Central Station and public library. In 2012, the French choreographer Benjamin Millepied staged a version of Forsythe’s Quintett (1993). This year, Forsythe returns with his own company, staging the Dutch premiere of The Returns.


a work of
William Forsythe
Dietrich Krüger, Sebastian Rietz, Thom Willems
David Morrow
set design
William Forsythe
Ulf Naumann, Tanja Rühl
William Forsythe, Stephen Galloway, Dorothee Merg
assistant dramaturgy
Dr. Freya Vass-Rhee
production manager
Christopher Roman
Katja Cheraneva, Frances Chiaverini, Roderick George, Brigel Gjoka, Amancio Gonzalez, Josh Johnson, David Kern, Natalia Rodina, Tilman O’Donnell*, Nicole Peisl, Inma Rubio*, Jone San Martin, Yasutake Shimaji, Ildikó Tóth, Riley Watts, Ander Zabala
* guest
The Forsythe Company

This performance was made possible with support by