Finding Forsythe at Boston Ballet
Boston Ballet's fall program features the return of William Forsythe's The Second Detail, which the company danced for the first time last year. Pointe's e-news talked with soloist Whitney Jensen about tackling the popular ballet.
Does the Forsythe style come naturally to you?
I've done a lot of contemporary work, but The Second Detail was my first experience with Forsythe, so it's definitely something I've had to work on. Jill Johnson, who set the ballet on us, said the key was not to throw anything away—to hit all the classical lines, even though the style appears very relaxed. She also pointed out that every movement is a lengthening movement. Nothing is short—everything's bigger and longer and out of yourself, out of the socket.
What's most challenging about your part in Second Detail?
I'm basically dancing for the entire ballet. There's one bit where I'm sitting on a stool, but otherwise, I'm going and going! I also have an improv moment that I like to experiment with. Sometimes I'll incorporate parts of my solo or a group dance. Sometimes I'll pick out steps that other people do in the piece, things I like, and re-use them. But I try to make it different every time.
How has your interpretation grown and changed since you first performed the ballet?
It's been easier this time around because I've figured out how to pace myself. I've found moments in the choreography where I don't have to go all-out. It's hard, because the music is telling you to make everything strong and bold. But I've discovered that sometimes using a little less energy actually lets your body move bigger—it frees you up.
Why do you think audiences love Forsythe ballets?
They have an amazing energy—there's this sense of community onstage. Jill told us be generous, to remember that we're essentially an ensemble of principals working together. I think audiences really respond to that.
Want more Whitney? Check out this video of her performing at Varna International Ballet Competition in 2008, where she was the first American to win the junior division's Special Distinction Grand Prix.