Benoit Swan Pouffer
Paris-born Pouffer's path was irrevocably decided at the age of six, upon entering the Conservatoire de Bobigny. There he studied dance until the age of 14, when he received a scholarship to the prestigious Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris, where he performed works by such renowned French choreographers as Claude Brumachon, Daniel Larrieu and Angelin Preljocaj. Studying Cunningham technique and improvisation as well as ballet, he realized that mixing various forms of dance could breathe new life into the art form.
While at the Conservatoire National Superieur Pouffer began choreographing, teaching workshops and developing his personal style. Here he was also introduced to the work of Alvin Ailey: "I knew that I had to dance with his company." And it was not long after that he got his chance. In April 1993, Pouffer took first place in the Benetton European Dance Competition and won a scholarship to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. In a matter of months, he had moved to New York and had begun taking classes with the company. After a year at the Ailey school, Pouffer performed with such companies as Philadanco, Donald Byrd/The Group and Complexions.
In 1997, he became a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where he danced from 1997 to 2004 under the direction of Judith Jamison. He performed works by Talley Beatty, Redha Benteifour, Ronald K. Brown, Ulysses Dove, George Faison, Geoffrey Holder, Bill T. Jones, Alonzo King, Donald McKayle, Hans van Manen, Elisa Monte and, of course, Alvin Ailey. Pouffer taught outreach programs in South Africa and master classes throughout Europe and the United States before becoming the Artistic Director of Cedar Lake in 2005. His original works for Cedar Lake include "Seed," "Between Here and Now," "Hammer," "Vastav" and "Glassy Essence."