Artist Profile: Crystal Pite


Canadian choreographer and performer Crystal Pite is a former company member of Ballet British Columbia and William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt. In 2002, she formed Kidd Pivot in Vancouver. Integrating movement, original music, text, and rich visual design, Kidd Pivot’s performance work is assembled with recklessness and rigour, balancing sharp exactitude with irreverence and risk. Crystal recently worked with Ballet BC’s dancers setting the deeply poetic and expansive Solo Echo for its Canadian premiere in Program 1.

“To dance is to feel the resonance of your life, to feel delight in your existence. To be human is to be danced by experience, energy, and emotion.” -Crystal Pite

To view Solo Echo Studio Session photos, click here.

Video by Peter Smida.

On Solo Echo with Livona Ellis

Working with Crystal Pite has been an experience beyond words. I would do an interpretive dance to describe it, but that would still not be enough. Getting an inside view on her process has been so valuable. Her work pushes you on many levels: physically, intellectually, spiritually. I have come away from this process with a different perspective on dance and I think even on life itself.

Remounting Solo Echo was a beautiful challenge. It was created on Nederlands Dans Theater in 2012, so we already had this precedent of what the piece could be. Watching and learning from those incredible artists on video was very inspiring. It was a great point of reference to have when working with Crystal, as we were worked to breathe the choreography in our own way. I understand ideas better visually, so watching her articulate the movement was incredibly informative, but also listening to her speak about the emotional content of the piece was very profound for me. Crystal talks about conflict in her work and it is very present in the physicality. Opposition, separation, and isolation were not new concepts to work with, but in this piece the sophistication of those ideas were elevated. The precision with which she would shift her weight, move a hand, or even change her focus made everything so clear. Something about the clarity and subtlety in her body makes everything she does so vivid. The intentions are so clear in the piece, and so well articulated by the choreography, that it makes the dancing incredibly satisfying.

There is a lot of focus on precision and clarity but there is also this huge sense of risk and abandon in the piece. Crystal really pushed us to see how far we could take things. Dance to the limit and then consider what your body looks like when you are on the edge. Dance to the limit, but with an awareness of your body that will allow you to contrast that abandonment with control. For me this is the most exciting way to move. With extreme physicality there is an inherent sense of theatricality. The choice of focus or a subtle gesture, coupled with the musicality, create these agonizingly beautiful moments. Sometimes we make choices to work against the music or have it be a point of reference for certain moments, but not in this piece. In Solo Echo the music governs all. Everything makes sense because of the music. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever danced to. As I uncover the different layers in the music I start to discover the multiple layers of the movement. Accenting movements or different parts of the body with the music can say a variety of things. Crystal uses the music to pull you in and shift your focus to what is important for you to see as an observer. I suppose every choreographer has a way of coordinating all of these things to express what they want; carefully balancing movement, music, and theatricality. Somehow Crystal Pite has this type of genius where she combines all three and takes the viewer, and the dancer, to this place of raw emotion until you can’t help but wonder how you got there and somehow never want to leave.

-Livona Ellis, October 2015

Choreographer Crystal Pite. Photo by Michael Slobodian.
Dancer Rachel Meyer and Apprentice Albert Galindo. Photo by Michael Slobodian.
Dancer Rachel Meyer and Apprentice Albert Galindo. Photo by Michael Slobodian.
Rehearsal Director Eric Beauchesne and Choreographer Crystal Pite. Photo by Michael Slobodian.
Ballet BC Dancer Alexis Fletcher. Photo by Michael Slobodian.
Choreographer Crystal Pite and Dancer Livona Ellis. Photo by Michael Slobodian.
Dancers Gilbert Small, Brett Perry, Peter Smida and Apprentice Albert Galindo. Photo by Michael Slobodian.
Choreographer Crystal Pite. Photo by Michael Slobodian.
Dancers Alexis Fletcher and Andrew Bartee. Photo by Michael Slobodian.