‘Black Swan’ Choreographer Millepied to Head Paris Ballet

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Photographer: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied poses on Jan. 24, 2013 at the Garnier Opera in Paris. Millepied was appointed today dance director at the Paris Opera.

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Photographer: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied poses on Jan. 24, 2013 at the Garnier Opera in Paris. Millepied was appointed today dance director at the Paris Opera. Close

French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied poses on Jan. 24, 2013 at the Garnier Opera in Paris. Millepied... Read More

Photographer: Julien Benhamou/Paris Opera via Bloomberg

Dancer-choreographer Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed and had a part in the 2010 movie "Black Swan." Millepied will become director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet in Oct. 2014. Close

Dancer-choreographer Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed and had a part in the 2010 movie "Black Swan." Millepied... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Members of the Paris Opera Ballet take their bows at the end of a performance of Rudolf Nureyev's "Don Quichotte" at the Opera Bastille on Nov. 16, 2012. Close

Members of the Paris Opera Ballet take their bows at the end of a performance of Rudolf Nureyev's "Don Quichotte" at... Read More

Source: Rosalie O'Connor/Sadler's Wells via Bloomberg

A choreographed work by Benjamin Millepied. The American Ballet Theatre dancers Stella Abrera and Cory Stearns in a segment of ''Everything Doesn't Happen At Once." The piece, part of a mixed bill, was performed at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London in 2011. Close

A choreographed work by Benjamin Millepied. The American Ballet Theatre dancers Stella Abrera and Cory Stearns in a... Read More

Source: Venice Film Festival via Bloomberg

Natalie Portman plays a ballerina in the Darren Aronofsky film "Black Swan." The movie was in competition at the 2010 Venice Film Festival. Portman is married to dancer-choreographer Benjamin Millepied, who worked on the movie. Close

Natalie Portman plays a ballerina in the Darren Aronofsky film "Black Swan." The movie was in competition at the 2010... Read More

Dancer Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed the movie “Black Swan” and had a small part in it, will head the Paris Opera Ballet from Oct. 15, 2014.

The 35-year-old will replace Brigitte Lefevre, who has been the institution’s director of dance since 1995, Paris Opera Director Nicolas Joel announced today in Paris.

Millepied will fill a position held by one of the greatest dancers of all time: From 1983 to 1989, Rudolf Nureyev led the company. The Russian prodigy choreographed ballets that are still in the company repertoire, and performed each year.

During his tenure, Nureyev spotted talents such as Sylvie Guillem who went on to become international stars. One of his proteges -- Laurent Hilaire, currently Lefevre’s deputy -- had been viewed as a potential successor until today’s announcement.

Millepied, born in Bordeaux, France, is married to actress Natalie Portman, who won an Oscar for her role as the tormented dancer in Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller “Black Swan” (2010). They have a son.

At a Paris news conference, Millepied said he and his family were moving to Paris, where Portman would work on European projects.

The choreographer said he approached the job “with great respect and humility,” AFP reported. He stressed the “refinement and elegance” of its members, and said, “You can recognize a Paris Opera dancer in 10 seconds.”

Swan Horror

“Black Swan” irritated much of the ballet world. In a 2011 interview, Royal Ballet Principal Sarah Lamb -- who is U.S.-born -- termed it “horrific.” She regretted that the movie was “received as a plausible and semi-realistic tale,” and that Portman was “applauded for having become a ballerina.”

Millepied joined the New York City Ballet in 1995 and became a principal dancer in 2002. He performed principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine (“Agon,” “Coppelia”), Jerome Robbins (“Dances at a Gathering”), and Angelin Preljocaj.

He left New York City Ballet in 2011 to concentrate on choreography and set up his own company, L.A. Dance Project. So far, he has some two dozen choreographies to his name.

In 2006, Millepied was commissioned to choreograph a piece for the Paris Opera Ballet titled “Amovco,” set to extracts from Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach.”

In February 2011, his choreography was a highlight of a set of American Ballet Theater performances at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. A parade of men in loose waistcoats and women in Grecian tunics twitched and tossed in a blend of ballet and athletics, accompanied by screechy live music.

Information: http://www.operadeparis.fr/en/L_Opera/le_Ballet/

Muse highlights include Mark Beech on music, Jason Harper on cars and Rich Jaroslovsky on tech.

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri at farahn@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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