Benjamin Millepied Is Leaving Paris Opéra Ballet

February 3, 2016

WHOA. Big news from Paris, guys.

Yesterday afternoon, rumors started swirling that Paris Opéra Ballet dance director Benjamin Millepied—the former New York City Ballet principal also known as L.A. Dance Project‘s director and Mr. Natalie Portman—was leaving his post at POB. Which was a shock to most people, given that Millepied had a) only held the position for a little more than a year and b) generated a lot of excitement (and controversy) with his plans to bring the revered classical company into the contemporary world.

Soon enough, those rumors were officially confirmed, along with the fact that recently retired POB étoile Aurélie Dupont would take over as director. And the news set the whole ballet world buzzing.

Millepied in the studio (via @benjaminmillepied)

So, why is Millepied leaving? He says that while he was honored to have the opportunity, the POB job “doesn’t fit” him. He wants to focus on his own choreographic work, and spend more time with LADP, which he plans to turn into a larger company. (Good news for L.A. dance fans.) In earlier interviews, Millepied also expressed frustration with POB’s rigid hierarchy and its lack of racial diversity. Aaaaand OK, there’ve been rumblings that Portman was unhappy in Paris, but…who really knows.

Anyway, Dupont—a gorgeous dancer who gave her final performances with the company last summer—will officially take over on July 15. What can we expect from her? That remains to be seen. (Though she won’t be choreographing, apparently; she says she has “no talent” as a choreographer.) Here’s how she described her relationship with the company at a press conference today: “It’s a love story with [POB]. You lose your soul when you join it. It takes time to change things, and I will take my time.”

Dupont after a performance of Manon (via @balletoperadeparis)

Obviously, we’ll let you know more as we hear it!

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