As of last week’s article about amazing dancer Ebony Williams, with her laser concentration in executing his “elbows and shoulders” dance, I was turned onto the work of choreographer Benoit Swan Pouffer, who recently stepped down as Artistic Director of Cedar Lake Ballet to pursue other choreographic endeavors. A former Ailey dancer, Swan Pouffer is responsible for amassing a great repertory for Cedar Lake, including works by innovators such as Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and the company is currently searching for his replacement. As a result of “meeting him” on Facebook, I learned that he is currently casting for the Lido in Paris, and also discovered this beautiful short.
Directed by Francois Rousseau, Elaboration shows Swan Pouffer in a workshop with a group of dancers. He comes across as a dancer’s choreographer — giving instruction and direction in approaching his ideas but also leaving space for search and improvisation. When I watched it I was instantly engaged. I love the score, the framing of the movement, how it goes from black and white to color and from real time to lush super slow motion, allowing us both a more intimate glimpse at the dancers and also the ability to see small magical moments of revelation, both individually and between them. I love hearing parts of the direction and commentary by Swan Pouffer and the intensity, commitment and thrill of the participants is palpable. As a filmmaker, Rousseau seems to have an innate sensitivity for movement as relates to the camera, such that it made me want to be there moving myself amongst the group, or at second best just alone in my studio. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the ultimate contributions a dance film can make.