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
Local

Supporters say man accused of robbery was misidentified

A Liberian immigrant couple charged with extorting money from an elderly woman in March will be in court Thursday for a bail hearing, but supporters say it's a case of…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

Local

Could this be the end of ICE holds…

Mayor Michael Nutter directed city agencies to stop cooperating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer holds via executive order today.

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.