Limb's Theorem - Synopsis

Limb's Theorem von William Forsythe Limb's Theorem: Séverine Ferrolier Limb's Theorem

Limb's Theorem

Ballet by William Forsythe
Music by Thom Willems


Limb’sTheorem is one of the most successful works from the Frankfurt ballet repertoire and has been performed all over the world. It is a virtuoso piece the dancers and participatory piece for the audience. A pure-dance work made in 1989-1990, it is a thrilling demonstration of the infinite possibilities of the ballet vocabulary and an endlessly inventive elaboration of the relationship between dance and its perception by the observer. Set amidst large, architectural objects (created by Forsythe and Michael Simon) that carve up and modify the stage space, the movement emerges from the dark, individual bodies separating out of an interconnected spiderweb of legs and arms into a continuous proliferation and dispersion of pas de deux, solos, trios, and ensembles.

In part two, Enemy in the Figure, the synthesis of the functional and the imaginative engenders extraordinarily beautiful images: a rope is pulsed across the floor as if indicating energy levels or secret messages; a floodlight on wheels explodes and contracts the space, bathing the dancers in a concentrated glare or obscuring them with deepening shadows that intensify the ephemeral beauty of the movements; an undulating screen is positioned diagonally across the stage, providing a reflective surface, a barrier, and a refuge for the dancers who burst out of and disappear into the darkness like eruptions from the unconscious, spinning against their own kinetic reflections.


In the final section of the ballet, both the objects and the dancers multiply, a large ensemble moving in complex and exhilarating counterpoint to a rhythmic beat, before winding down to a muted, arrested end: bodies slanted forward in a bent-kneed walk, then freezing in awkward, angled stance.


With its astounding configurations of dance, light and sound, Limb´s Theorem presents exploration and experiment as coherent theatrical experience, testifying to the infinite possibilities of the dancing body.


Dance Europe, London, January 2005:
The overall effect is an absolutely mind-blowing experience with each individual aspect of the production complementing every other… Often moving in almost complete darkness, the dancers rose to the challenge in a perfectly rehearsed manner. It was very pleasing to see many new faces tackling this work with complete conviction and determination… Limb’s Theorem appears intellectually deep but not without humour… There was jubilation and many curtain calls for the ensemble… A performance to remember and certainly an asset to the Staatsballett’s repertoire.