Benjamin Millepied to Head Ballet of the Opera National de Paris
By Frank Cadenhead
24 Jan 2013
Benjamin Millepied, 35, a former star of the New York City Ballet and founder of the L.A. Dance Project last year has been appointed Thursday to the prestigious post of director of dance for the Ballet of the Opera National de Paris.
The Paris Opera is, like the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou, considered a centerpiece of French culture, and his appointment, considering his career mostly outside France, will raise some eyebrows. His is widely known for his choreography for the popular film "Black Swan" whose star, Natalie Portman he subsequently married. He will take over in Paris in September 2014.
He is well known not only as a dancer but for his work as choreographer. His work is acclaimed worldwide and often found in the Paris Opera Ballet seasons. He was surprised to receive a telephone call in November from Stéphane Lissner, who will move from running the La Scala Opera in Milan to take the Paris Opera position in 2015. Lissner will be in overall charge of the Paris National Opera but the ballet usually operates autonomously within the budget. Millepied will replace the long-time director, Brigitte Lefèvre, whose retirement had been previously announced.
A Bordeaux native and trained in ballet in France, his career has largely been in America but his work is followed closely by the French press. The Paris Opera Ballet has 150 dancers, a famed school and shares an orchestra with the Paris Opera large enough to be in both the Palais Garnier and the Opera Bastille pits on the same night.
He will continue to lead the L. A. Dance Project until he moves to Paris in 2014 and believes that it will continue in his absence. As the designated director he will now be involved in the long-term decision making of the company and will certainly be travelling to Paris from time to time with his new work.