As choreographer of the wildly popular movie Black Swan and recent subject of Reset, a documentary following the creation of his first work for the Paris Opéra Ballet, Benjamin Millepied is no stranger to film. (He’s also married to Hollywood actress and Black Swan star Natalie Portman.) But according to Variety, this versatile choreographer and founder of L.A. Dance Project is about to add a new role to his resume: movie director. Millepied will direct and choreograph Carmen, a feature film based on George Bizet’s opera of the same name.
Set to begin shooting in early 2018, Millepied’s Carmen will be a modern-day retelling, setting the protagonist on a journey from Mexico to Los Angeles in pursuit of freedom. The film, described as a contemporary musical drama, will also feature an original score by Nicholas Britell, the Oscar–nominated composer of Moonlight. “The incorporation of music and drama in film is a cornerstone of my creativity and having such an experienced and talented team by my side gives me confidence that we will beautifully capture the story told in Carmen,” Milliepied told Variety.
Carmen has had a long trajectory. Bizet’s 1875 opera—which tells the doomed love story of a passionate Romani woman named Carmen and the naïve soldier Don José (whom she seduces and then leaves for a glamorous toreador)—is based off of Prosper Mérimée’s 1845 novella. Upwards of 20 films have been made based on the story, as well as several ballets, most notably those by choreographers Roland Petit and Alberto Alonso. Only time will tell how Millepied will add his own contemporary take to this classic story.
Black Swan had mass appeal, and its audience extended far beyond the bubble of dancers and balletomanes. Given Millepied’s rising celebrity status, Hollywood connections, and his collaboration with an experienced team, I’m excited to see the new ways that his Carmen will bring ballet into the public eye.