William Forsythe, Behind The China Dogs

New York State Theater at Lincoln Center

“It is a fashion, a fury,” reported Mme de Sévigné in 1696 of the French court’s ecstatic response to the introduction, from Italy, of a new vegetable: green peas. “Impatience to eat them, the pleasure of having eaten them, the joy of eating them again, are the three questions which have occupied our princes for the last four days.” For many New York dance fans, William Forsythe was last spring’s dish of petit pois. The New York City Ballet gave us a generous first serving with the premiere of Forsythe’s Behind the china dogs, 1988, as part of the American Music Festival. Seconds and thirds were dished out in two mid-June programs performed by Forsythe’s own company, the Frankfurt Ballet. A presentation by the visiting Paris Opera Ballet of Forsythe’s in the middle, somewhat elevated, 1987, in late June should have been gut-bust time, but still the fans were whooping for more—or at least

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