From Black Swan to Paris Opéra

Benjamin Millepied has been named as the next director of dance at the Paris Opéra Ballet. He will succeed current director Brigitte Lefèvre starting in October 2014. Although most of Millepied's career—as both a dancer with New York City Ballet and a freelance choreographer, notably for Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan—has so far been based in the United States, he is originally from Bordeaux, France. Nonetheless, the choice came as a surprise, since most people expected the company to select a candidate from inside their own ranks. And even though Millepied, 35, has put together touring troupes and recently launched the L.A. Dance Project, the Paris Opéra is on a whole other level, with 150 dancers, layers of bureaucracy and the weight of a history that dates back to Louis XIV. Millepied said in an interview with The New York Times today that he plans to continue running the L.A. Dance Project until his contract in Paris begins, when he'll move to France with wife Natalie Portman and their son. POB has commissioned a new work from him for next season (his third for the company), but he told writer Rosyln Sulcas that he does not plan to focus on his own choreography. Instead, he wants to put his energy into expanding the company's contemporary ballet repertoire and commissioned scores as well as cultivating in-house choreographic talent.