Nicolas Joel, Director of the Paris Opera, in close consultation with Stéphane Lissner, Director delegate, and with the approval of Aurélie Filippetti, Minister of Culture and Communication, has appointed Benjamin Millepied to succeed Brigitte Lefèvre as Director of Dance as of 15 October 2014.
Born in Bordeaux in 1977, Benjamin Millepied spent part of his childhood in Senegal. Introduced to dance by his mother, a teacher of African and contemporary dance, he entered the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Lyon where he studied with Michel Rahn.
In summer 1992 he followed a course at the School of American Ballet which he subsequently joined in 1993 after obtaining a grant from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 1994 he won the Prix de Lausanne and the same year Jerome Robbins chose him to interpret the main role in 2 & 3 Part Inventions created for the students of the School of American Ballet. After joining the New York City Ballet Corps de Ballet in 1995, he was promoted to soloist in 1998 and became principal dancer in 2002.
At New York City Ballet, Benjamin Millepied performed the principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine (including Agon, Coppélia, The Nutcracker, Rubis, A Midsummer Night's Dream…), Jerome Robbins (Dances at a Gathering, Fancy free, A Suite of Dances, The Goldberg Variations, West Side Story Suite…), Peter Martins (Hallelujah Junction, Swan Lake), and appeared in new works by Angelin Preljocaj (La Stravaganza), Mauro Bigonzetti (Vespro, In Vento) , Alexei Ratmanski (Concerto DSCH) and Christopher Wheeldon (Mercurial Manoeuvres…).
Meanwhile, Benjamin Millepied made his debuts as a choreographer with Passages created for the students of theCNSMD in Lyon in 2001. The following year he presented Triple Duet at Sadler’s Wells in London, with his ensemble Danses Concertantes, then directed the film Chaconne with Olivier Simola (2003).
He returned to Sadler’s Wells in 2004 with Circular Motion and the same year devised the choreography for On the Other Side at the Maison de la danse in Lyon. There followed Double Aria for New York City Ballet to an original score by Daniel Ott (2005), 28 Variations on a Theme by Paganini for the NYCB School (2005), The Nutcracker for the Ballet of the Grand Théâtre de Genève (2005),Closer at the Joyce Theater in New York (2006), Capriccio for the American Ballet Theater’s Studio Company (2006), Years Later, a solo for Mikhail Baryshnikov, in collaboration with Olivier Simola (2006), From here on out (2007) to original music by Nico Muhly for ABT, Petrouchka (2007) for the Ballet of the Grand Théâtre de Genève, 3 Movements (2008) for the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Without (2008) for Danses Concertantes, Quasi una Fantasia (2009) for New York City Ballet, Everything doesn’t happen at once (2009) for the American Ballet Theatre, Sarabande (2009) for Danses Concertantes, Why Am I Not Where You Are and Plainspoken (2010) for the New York City Ballet , One thing leads to another (2010) for the Het National Ballet, The Bartered Bride (2011) for the Metropolitan Opera, This part in Darkness (2011) for the Pennsylvania Ballet, Without (2011) for the Mariinsky Ballet, Les Sylphides and Le Spectre de la rose (2011) for the Ballet de Genève, Khovanschina (2012) for the Metropolitan Opera and Two Hearts (2012) for New York City Ballet.
At the Paris Opera, Brigitte Lefèvre, director of dance, invited him to devise a choreography for the Amoveo company, in 2006, to an original adaptation of musical excerpts from Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass (scenography by Paul Cox and costumes by Marc Jacobs) and Triade, in 2008, to an original score by Nico Muhly.
Benjamin Millepied has also been the artistic director of the Morris Center Dance in Bridgehampton (New York, 2004-2005,) and ”choreographer in residence” at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (New York, 2006-2007).
In 2010, he was choreographer and advisor for the Oscar-winning film Black Swan directed by Darren Aronofsky.
In 2011, he left New York City Ballet and made five short dance films to cello pieces by Philip Glass and founded his own company in Los Angeles, “L.A. Dance Project”, a creative collective seeking to present dance in all its forms. A world tour took them from Los Angeles to Bordeaux (Novart 2012) and then on to Paris in May 2013.
He is also the image for Yves Saint-Laurent's male fragrance “L’Homme Libre” and Air France's “L’Envol” campaign.
He has been appointed by Nicolas Joel, director of the Paris Opera, and Stéphane Lissner, director delegate of the Paris Opera, to succeed Brigitte Lefèvre as Director of Dance as of September 2014.
In 2007, Benjamin Millepied was awarded the United States Artists Wynn Fellowship.
He is Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (2010).