Enemy in the Figure

William Forsythe

In «Enemy in the Figure» 11 dancers perform as if observed beneath a microscope. Edgy and detached, they move in and out of the shadows cast by a huge spot light, their bodies in counterpoint to an environment saturated in technology.

  • World premiere by: Frankfurt Ballet, Frankfurt (Germany), May 13th 1989
  • Premiere by Compañía Nacional de Danza: at Teatro Real de Madrid (Spain), May 18th 2001

Making use of an undulating screen positioned diagonally across the stage, a rope that is pulsed across the floor as if indicating energy levels or secret messages, a floodlight on wheels that is manipulated by the dancers, and a ticking, brooding score by Thom Willems, «Enemy in the Figure» is a dark and thrilling poem about vision and perception, form and chaos. Light – as integral here to the choreography as the steps – filters across the stage in uneven and transient shafts, exploding and contracting the space, bathing the dancers in a concentrated glare or obscuring them with deepening shadows that intensify the ephemeral beauty of the movement.

Donning garments of layered fringes over their black or white leotards, the dancers burst out of and disappear into the darkness like eruptions from the unconscious, their bodies appearing as polyphonous instruments that can generate movement from any point. Ballet-trained limbs mutate into angled, disjointed shapes, inscribing convulsive geometries as they spin against their kinetic shadows, or generate endless chains of movement on a suddenly empty stage, the light bleached and even, the music a low, rhythmic, repetitive melody. In a universe alternately frenetic and calm, «Enemy in the Figure» presents a non-narrative of mystery and urgency, isolation and connection, the mechanical and the human: dance as a medium for infinite possibilities.


  • Choreography:
    William Forsythe
  • Music:
    Thom Willems
  • Staging:
    Ana Catalina Román
  • Set Design, Costume and Lighting Design:
    William Forsythe
  • Length:
    29 minutes
  • Premiere cast CND:
    Iratxe Ansa, Emmanuelle Broncin, Cristina Hortigüela, Ana María López, Ruth Maroto, Lesley Telford, Patrick de Bana, Demond Hart, Amaury Lebrun, Nicolas Maire, Luis Martín Oya