Crystal Pite: More than Movement
by Valeria Nunziato
August 12, 2019
Renowned for the emotional depth and beautiful intimacy of her work, Crystal Pite is one of the world’s most in-demand choreographers. Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of London’s Sadler’s Wells, describes Pite’s choreographic language as “a breadth of movement fusing classical elements and the complexity and freedom of structured improvisation.”
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Pite joined Ballet BC in 1988 where she danced for eight years. Only two years after being hired by Ballet BC she made her choreographic debut. After leaving Ballet BC, Pite continued performing, joining William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt. Dancing under the direction of Forsythe impacted Pite greatly. She considers Forsythe one of her earliest mentors, crediting the recklessness and rigour distinct in her choreography to him. In 2002, Pite returned to Vancouver where she established her own company, Kidd Pivot.
Pite’s desire to explore the human body and its endless range of movement possibilities, as well as the relationship between music, theatre, visual art and improvisation, have birthed many internationally acclaimed works. Each of Pite’s pieces communicate emotional truths through theatrical story telling. Her choreography often teases the eye, transforming the human body into resembling something extraterrestrial by pushing the boundaries of her performers’ potentials. More than movement, her work makes pronounced statements about society.
Betroffenheit, created in 2015 as a collaboration between Kidd Pivot and Jonathan Young’s Electric Company Theatre, is a heart-wrenching exploration of the emotional complexities associated with personal trauma. The work toured extensively and received unanimous acclaim. The two collaborated again in 2019 to create Revisor, a piece of dance theatre inspired by Gogel’s The Inspector General about corruption, farce and the forces of radical change. Pite’s 2016 work for Nederlands Dans Theatre I entitled The Statement enthralled audiences with its piercing commentary on corporate spin and diplomatic exploitation. In 2017, Pite choreographed the critically acclaimed Flight Pattern for The Royal Ballet, a raw, moving testimony on the refugee crisis of our time.
Pite has choreographed over 40 works for companies around the globe including The National Ballet of Canada. In 2009, the National Ballet’s Artistic Director Karen Kain commissioned her to create a new work for Innovation, a programme of all-Canadian choreography. The result was the brilliantly crafted Emergence, an award-winning account of the ‘hive-mind’ life of professional ballet and the hierarchies that exist within. In honour of Kain’s 50th anniversary with the National Ballet, Pite will be unveiling an original work for the company’s 2019/20 season.
New Work by Crystal Pite with Chroma & Marguerite and Armand are onstage February 29 – March 7, 2020.
Valeria Nunziato is a graduate of the Emerging Arts Critics programme.