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

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Local

VIDEO: NYPD seeks shooter in East New York…

Cops are on the lookout for an unknown shooter who aimed and missed hitting a man on a bicycle, instead nearly striking a nearby officer in East New York.

Local

NYS state forces thrift shops comply with ban…

Nine New York City thrift shops were reprimanded by the state attorney general for selling children's clothes with drawstrings around the neck and waist.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 11,…

Caleb's not a ghost. Spencer might still be an attempted murderer. And Hanna's going to die next week. In other words, we actually got some…

Movies

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

Marvel Entertainment's Stan Lee is adding outposts to his creative empire to interest a new generation of children in super heroes of all shapes and sizes.

Television

Mira Sorvino explores immortality on 'Intruders'

Mira Sorvino's new show "Intruders" centers around a secret society that achieves immortality by taking over the bodies of other people.

Television

5 things you need to know about new…

"Doctor Who" returns Saturday with a new star, Peter Capaldi. Here's some things to know about him (mainly his turn as sweary spin doctor Malcolm Tucker).

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

NFL

David Wilson returns to triple jump, sets sights…

Giants fans know David Wilson can jump. They are just more used to seeing him go for backflips, not distance.

Style

11 timeless gifts for registries or just because

Gifts to prove you're a style maven once and for all.

Parenting

How everyday moments can inspire kids' creativity

"The Artist's Way for Parents" author Julia Cameron gives advice on how parents and children can be creative together.

Tech

How to stay safe online

Stop worrying about keeping your online passwords safe, and start worrying about keeping your username a secret. Actually, worry about both. According to Shaun Murphy…

Tech

OpenTable now lets you pay your bill via…

The restaurant app OpenTable added the ability to pay your bill (and tip) with your phone, thus cutting back on a few dining annoyances.