Benoit-Swan Pouffer choreographs new Broadway show

By CHARMAINE PATRICIA WARREN | 7/18/2013, 3:57 p.m. | Updated on 7/18/2013, 3:57 p.m.
Amber Iman as Nina Simone and Eric Anderson as Rabbi Shiomo Carlebach in Brodways "Soul Doctor"

Are you a Nina Simone fan?

Oh, I love Nina Simone! I’m French!

Is there something about Rabbi Shlomo Carleback that intrigues you, after all he was called the “Rock Star Rabbi of the ‘60s”?

This man was someone who believed in doing good for people we need that right now. We need to feel that type of story.

What is driving your choreography?

Well, the challenge is we operate through 30 to 40 years of his life ... the 1960s swing dance and then going to the hippies in California, and using Jewish traditional music. It’s a very different pallet, and that’s the fun. We’ve researched some of the time period. It’s challenging but exciting to come up with different styles that work for the time period that Shlomo was.

Is this very different than choreographing for concert dance?

It is different because it is a musical, [and] it’s a collaboration with different designers. That was what influenced my taking the position. We really collaborate with one another, and it is different than a dance piece. We have to leave the space for the acting and singing, so dance is an element, and I love that. I love the fact that I’m challenging them physically, but they all have the challenge as well of acting and singing . So all those elements make it great to be part of this process.

So this is truly a collaboration with the other creators?

Absolutely! When I spoke to them at first, that was one of the essential parts—for them to include me in the team. I love collaborating with different people and I think it was a perfect fit for me.

Were you a part of the audition process?

Some of it, not all. When I was asked to join the team, they had the lead and seven other people. It was about using what they already had and working with it, and to be inspired by this talent.

Are you having a good time?

I’m having a ball! I’m really blessed and humbled by the talent that I’m working with.

What do you think is next?

Time will tell. I’m open to see other projects. Who knows, we shall see.