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Crystal Pite

Crystal Pite: “The consonance rings true”

July 17, 2024
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Ms. Pite, as a choreographer for over 30 years, what kind of challenges are you facing in your work these days?

The challenge is to keep pushing myself, to keep diving into unknown territory. I hope that I'm always able to do better work the more that I know, but it’s not necessarily a given, is it? These days, I'm making clear choices about what I want to be working on, how I want to spend the creative time that I have left, and who I want to be working with: I have to choose carefully and to be discerning, and I think that leads to greater depth and clarity. But I also know that I have to take risks and be comfortable with the unknown and not just settle and feel comfortable with what I've done. I have to continue to feel overextended, I have to continue to feel like I'm reaching just a bit beyond what I can handle, creatively-speaking.

I can imagine that your pieces featuring many dancers — sometimes upwards of 50 or 60 — really tick those boxes? It seems like the kind of thing you couldn’t have done earlier on in your career…

It takes an enormous amount of skill, for sure! And not just my own skill, but the skill of the people that I'm working with. They are constantly problem solving and finessing things as much as I am. But I've often found myself in the position of being a leader to a large group of people, even since high school, and even though often I feel nervous and overwhelmed, there are certain truths of how we can work together that I can rely on to cope with that. So when I go and do a project with a big ballet company - they sometimes have like a hundred dancers in the company - I often choose to work with a big cast just because I can, just because I have the opportunity! I learn so much about choreography in those projects. It sounds counterintuitive, but working with a big group allows me to achieve complexity through relatively simple movement in the individual body. When that movement is iterated across many individuals I can build complexity quite quickly using relatively simple physical vocabulary.

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Last week’s Interview
Arine AprahamianEmerging Masters

Arine Aprahamian: “Small changes go a long way”

July 10, 2024

Arine, would you describe your approach to architecture as more logical and technical, or more creative and free-flowing?

A bit of both, I think! My inspiration and these kinds of things come from storytelling. There’s a story in everything, the story exists in all conditions. Sometimes you just have to look for it. But at the same time, I’m still an architect, so I love to make these detailed technical drawings. So, from the free flow of the inspiration, there also comes a time of extreme order and practicality. Architecture cannot be done without this kind of organization, because it's also so easy to get overwhelmed with the data. For example, just thinking about the area near Beirut where I was raised, and where I’ve done a lot of my research… I have so much data that I'm constantly re-organizing! So that kind of calculated approach has a very important place in architecture.

What was it like growing up in the town of Bourj Hammoud, in the suburbs of Beirut?

I’m actually there right now, visiting my family, and coming back makes me realize how grateful I feel for being raised here! We had a pretty family centered upbringing here, you know, I'm Armenian-Lebanese, so we had a strong connection with Armenian culture. Living here was fun, cozy, and very community-focused, which is something that I really appreciate and something that reflected eventually in how I perceive my career in both architecture and design.