A group of Ailey students clad in the black-on-black modern dress code moves like a well-oiled machine through Lester Horton’s Fortification # 1. Ana Marie Forsythe meanders among the tilting bodies, issuing gentle but firm reminders, touching a rib cage here, redirecting an arm there. Her youthful form and infectious enthusiasm belie her 50 years as a teacher of Horton technique, the rigorous, athletic style that infuses Ailey’s classic works.
A former baby ballerina with the Garden State Ballet, Forsythe was introduced to Horton technique at age 12 by Joyce Trisler—a direct disciple of Horton—with whom she later danced. She is chairperson of The Ailey School’s Horton Department (where she has taught for 37 years), co-director of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program, and co-author of The Dance Technique of Lester Horton, the only published book documenting the form. Theresa Ruth Howard sat down with Forsythe to learn how she makes even the toughest fortifications a joy to struggle through.