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Peter Pucci, choreographer


 

(Compiled October, 1996)

Biography
Commissioned Works (to Summer 1996)

"It was just an accident" Peter Pucci says of his career. "I lived in a neighborhood that was mixed, culturally and racially. My father was a bricklayer and my mother was a mother. They've been deceased for a long time. I was pretty much on my own. Got into trouble here and there, but not in any big trouble. I did a lot of sports when I was young, started when I was eight: baseball, football, basketball - the whole thing. I just liked doing it. I had never seen any dance. I had never been to any music concerts or theater. Maybe movies. I didn't have any background in dance or any kind of cultural upbringing at all. It just sort of happened".

Peter Pucci was born and raised in Baltimore, attended two different colleges in order to become what naturally became him most - a physical education teacher. As a required course he took a modern dance class, and was fortunate enough to have a really good teacher. "We did a lot of improvisation, so I learned about moving freely before I learned technique....I was twenty when I started, and one thing led to another. I had no idea what I was getting into."

Pucci received a scholarship to study dance at Southern Methodist University where he was seen by Richard Kuch, a teacher from North Carolina School of the Arts. He suggested that Pucci audition for the school. He did, received a scholarship and after two and a half years graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts. Moving to New York, Pucci auditioned for Pilobolus Dance Theater, one of 250 men and 350 women. It was only his third audition and he landed the job. Pucci was a member of Pilobolus for nine years, during which he served as principal dancer, co-choreographer and rehearsal director. While with Pilobolus he toured and taught worldwide, made several film and television appearances, collaborated on many Pilobolus pieces and presented his own works on Pilobolus programs.

"Pilobolus's philosophy was 'anything goes'...At first I was a little skeptical of the whole idea, because it was very zany. I felt I was athletic enough, I could do this, but I was so technique orientated when I came out of school," Pucci says. "Someone would come in with some music, we'd put it on and we would just dance all day. We would video or remember something and then just build on that. And we would go on for days on end. In fact, we were all choreographing together."

Inevitably, with collaboration comes compromise and a certain company aesthetic develops. Pucci began to realize his personal tastes varied from those of the group. He and fellow company member, Carol Parker, began to create work in which they hoped Pilobolus would be interested.

 

In 1986, he formed, directed and choreographed for his own company, Peter Pucci Plus Dancers. For the first three years he was still dancing with Pilobolus, rehearsing with them in Connecticut from 10 to 6 then driving to New York City to work with his own company.

He stopped dancing with Pilobolus in August 1989 but continues to perform with his company. However, concerning that part of his career he states," I prefer to end it sooner than later. I've had a lot of good experiences on stage for a number of years. I don't think I'll prefer to dance for a long long time when I get older. It'll be too damn hard...I can see putting all my physical and mental and creative energies into just choreographing."

Since its founding, Peter Pucci Plus Dancers has performed annually in New York City, including four appearances at the Joyce Theater, and has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe. The company has twice been presented on public television by KRMA-TV Denver in One Night Only and Peter Pucci: Curtain Time. The second program was re-broadcast nationwide on PBS in April 1994.

Pucci acknowledges the imprint that Pilobolus left on his choreography including "...some of their sculptural elements and certain comedic things. I learned from Pilobolus that it's okay to make people laugh and its okay to challenge people and to make works about who you are. That's the bottom line for me; the works I make are really about who I am and how I feel about things."

As long ago as 1983 Pucci began working with original music. For his company's 1994 season at the Joyce Theater he commissioned three new scores, raising most of the money himself through private gifts.

 

Pucci has set repertory on numerous ballet and modern dance companies and has created commissioned pieces for Batsheva Dance Company, Pick of the Crop Music and Dance Ensemble, North Carolina School of the Arts, the Lincoln Center Serious Fun Festival, the Chautauqua Ballet Company, and the Joffrey Ballet, for which he created Moon of the Falling Leaves, based on native American themes to music by Mohican composer Brent Michael Davids and Willing and Able, the closing section of Joffrey's evening length ballet Billboards, to music by rock star Prince. His most recent commissions include Lifted by Love for the Alberta Ballet, set to a suite of songs by native Albertan k.d. lang, Suite Mizike for BalletMet Columbus, Trio for the End of Time for Ballet Arizona, Thought Through My Eyes for DanceForce (Atlanta), and Size Nine Spirit to big band music for Colorado Ballet.

 

In 1990 Pucci became the first recipient of the Samuel H. Scripps Humphrey/Weidman/Limon Fellowship, a choreographic commission awarded by the American Dance Festival. Pucci is also the winner of an Absolut Joffrey Award for Choreography and Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography for his collaboration with BalletMet.

 

Peter Pucci Commissioned Works (to Summer 1996)

 

 1996 Size Nine Spirit Colorado Ballet
  Thought Through My Eyes DanceForce (Atlanta)
 1995 Trio for the End of Time Ballet Arizona
  Suite Mizike BalletMet Columbus
  Samson and Dalila Baltimore Opera
 1994 Lifted by Love Alberta Ballet
  Their Hearts Have Eyes Pick of the Crop Music and Dance Ensemble.
  Banner Chautauqua Ballet Company
 1993 Two Rivers Chautauqua Ballet Company
  Billboards - Willing and Able The Joffrey Ballet
 1992  Moon of Falling Leaves The Joffrey Ballet
 1990 Heir of Civility Lincoln Center Serious Fun
  Something Pretty Fishy is Going On in the Temporal Lobes American Dance Festival
  Pas de Foie Gras Pick of the Crop Music and Dance Ensemble
 1989 Sylvan North Carolina School of the Arts
  Mariachi Batsheva Dance Company

 

 

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