For all intents and purposes, William Forsythe’s A Quiet Evening of Dancecould be called ‘A Quiet Lesson in Dance’. The program of short works by the renowned rule-breaking choreographer offers audiences what might be described as an abstract journey through the history of ballet. Dowdy that may sound, the work as a whole offers an exhilarating and astoundingly sophisticated deconstruction of the genre.

The collection of short contemporary dance works – both original and reimagined extant choreographies – vary in tone and texture, but all share the same concern: ballet. But this isn’t ballet as you know it. This is ballet as Forsythe knows it, and he wants you to know it too. This is the choreographer’s primary language, and his fervent desire to present the form in new and alternative contexts is his departure point.

Jill Johnson and Christopher Roman in  Catalogue. Photo © Bill Cooper

The works are presented in two acts. The first plays out like a series of masterclasses in which the dancers demonstrate various deconstructions and reinterpretations of classical ballet. In Catalogue, which is performed meticulously in silence by Jill Johnson and Christopher Roman, Forsythe returns to the...