Benoit Swan Pouffer goes from ballet to Broadway in ‘Soul Doctor’

How does one go from directing a ballet company to choreographing on Broadway? Benoit Swan Pouffer tells us how it happened. Credit: Provided
How does one go from directing a ballet company to choreographing on Broadway? Benoit Swan Pouffer tells us how it happened.
Credit: Provided

Benoit Swan Pouffer, who is known for his ballet choreography, called Metro from his hometown of Paris to talk about his choreography for “Soul Doctor,” the new show about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and his life-changing encounter with singer Nina Simone.

You’ve been the artistic director of a ballet company, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, since 2005.  How did you get involved with a musical?

Things happen in strange ways. I decided to move on from Cedar Lake, and a month later the “Soul Doctor” artistic team made contact; they’d seen some of my installation work. Originally they really wanted to immerse the audience, so they wanted someone not from musical theater. It was a very different kind of experience. I’d done “Dangerous Beauty” at Pasadena Playhouse and “Amazing Grace” at Goodspeed; I was interested to dive in.

How did you research the dances?

There’s this wonderful thing called YouTube. It’s like a library: You type in “Jewish wedding dances” and lose yourself in all those clips. 

What has been the most interesting part of the process?

To understand that the artists are not just dancers; they’re singing and acting. I had to convey a story that spans 40 years. It always comes down to the storytelling.

I was born and raised in a neighborhood in Paris that was Jewish and Chinese. All my friends were Jewish — 90% of the high school was Jewish. I had to find a quality of movement, between the Hasidic dances and what happens in the bar with Nina Simone. [I had to] research the dances of the ‘60s, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, people in the streets celebrating the Torah. [And I had to] really be inspired by the true story of what Carlebach did in his life. He made 30 albums, and had followers, and was really a fascinating man.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

Local

Future Boston Alliance invites you to #RidetheLine, support…

#RidetheLine aims to show the city, the nation, and the globe our creative impact as Boston citizens.

Local

(Update) Body of missing BU grad Eric Munsell…

The dead man pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon was that of missing 24-year-old Boston University alumnus Eric Munsell, Boston Police said today.

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

Movies

Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."

Arts

'Becoming Cuba' at Huntington is a bit short…

Playwright Melinda Lopez freely lampoons the English language for its lack of passion in her latest work, “Becoming Cuba.” Ironically, the Huntington Theatre Company’s playwright-in-residence…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.

NFL

Patriot’s schedule comes up fair

Those looking for built-in excuses for the Patriots 2014-2015 season will have to look elsewhere, because their schedule came up fair. For the fourth straight…

MLB

Nava demoted, Victorino return imminent

  Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava, who was batting a team-low .149/.240/.269, was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. "His struggles at the plate, I…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.

Style

MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.