Trajectory of an artist of high stature
Her hometown, Vancouver, is a port city. Is that why she’s always open to new horizons? Since leaving Ballet British Colombia, where she performed, in 1996, the dancer and choreographer has continuously enriched her creativity through many experiences. Starting with the five years she spent with William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet which were fundamental in her development and nurtured her with rigour and a “delightful imprudence”.
Appointed as a resident choreographer at Ballets Jazz de Montréal between 2001 and 2004, she created at the same time her own company, Kidd Pivot. In this laboratory she invented a gestural, musical, visual and theatrical form influenced by hip-hop and improvisational dance, demonstrated by Lost Action in 2006 and Dark Matters in 2009. Her experimental, creative work earned her the appointment as associate artist in at Canada’s National Arts Centre and Sadler’s Wells in London. Since 2008, she has been an associate choreographer at the Nederlands Dans Theater, the identity of which was shaped by the great Jiri Kylian, whose language she finds embedded in the dancers’ muscle memory.
Profusion of creativity
Everywhere she is invited, in companies such as the Cullberg Ballet formerly led by Mats Ek, Crystal Pite innovates, surprises and updates the repertoire wherever she goes. Her pieces combine a solid classical grammar with the free-flowing movements of contemporary dance without ever losing their force or organic virtuosity. The audience at the Paris Opera could witness this in 2016 at the unanimously acclaimed creation of The Seasons’ Canon. It is set to music by Max Richter based on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which, thanks to her, audiences felt like they were hearing for the first time.
Crystal Pite has become a leading figure on the international choreographic stage. Around 40 of her works have won a number of awards. Her last two pieces for Kidd Pivot brilliantly illustrate her skill at working with other performing arts, theatre in particular. Created in 2015 with the playwright and actor Jonathon Young, who is also its lead performer, Bettrofenheit is a hard-hitting piece about a man going through a breakdown and borrows its aesthetics from German Expressionism as well as the glitz of vaudeville shows.
Mr. Young also wrote Revisor, which premiered in Vancouver in 2019 and offers a caustic view of Gogol’s play using “choreographic ventriloquism”, where the dancers lip-synch a text pre-recorded by actors. In autumn 2019, Crystal Pite will again work with dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet on a new, eagerly-awaited piece set to music by one of her favourite composers, the contemporary Owen Belton.
A precious partnership
Crystal Pite’s love for experimentation, the combination of dance and theatre in her pieces, and her ability to work with world-famous ballet companies won over the BNP Paribas Foundation. Since late 2018, the Foundation has supported the artist, whose singular world and heritage, including Forsythe’s, rounds out the palette of choreographic styles we support. Thanks to her generous personality, as clear and open as her name, a trusting relationship was immediately established, materialised by the signing of a three-year funding agreement, twice renewable.
This long-term support aims to help Crystal Pite structure Kidd Pivot, which, notwithstanding her collaboration with prestigious companies, remains the primary tool of her work and creativity. Despite her international reputation, her need for means to develop and perform her own repertoire remains. The Foundation is supporting Revisor’s 2019-2020 French and international tour. It is also funding Crystal Pite’s creation for the Paris Opera Ballet, whose 350th anniversary it is also a patron of. This is the beginning of a partnership that will surely prove to be as fascinating as filled with creation.
Photos : Michaël Slobodian