New ensemble member
Forsythe’s vision of mentorship demanded that he integrate Sang Jijia into Ballett Frankfurt as a member of the ensemble. For the first several months dancing with Forsythe, Sang Jijia tended to connect movement in long, smooth arcs. He lacked the sense of spontaneous impulse characteristic of the Forsythe regulars. Unperturbed by the difference, Forsythe cast Sang Jijia side by side with the others in works old and new.
Choreographing new work
But there was more. Forsythe also invited Sang Jijia into the choreographic process as his assistant in the creation of (N.N.N.N.) a quartet for four of Forsythe’s most individual and gifted male dancers. Sang Jijia was present throughout rehearsals, and was asked for his reactions as the piece progressed. Forsythe says he would not hesitate to cast Sang Jijia in any of the quartet’s roles. Beyond all this, mentor and protégé soon began working together on a new solo. “Sang Jijia has the best seat in the house,” Forsythe said, midway throughout the year.
Sang Jijia did not take long to grasp Forsythe’s central tenets. “Of course, most choreographers have their own ideas, and don’t just work from music,” Sang Jijia noted around mid-year. “I think, as many people do, that Forsythe’s genius is that he can show the same idea from 20 different angles in the same piece. Not many choreographers have as many ideas as he has… When a new dancer comes in, old ideas are set aside and new ideas come in. In this way, Forsythe pushes dancers, refreshing himself and refreshing them. He gives dancers so much freedom! It’s good for both sides.”