Aurélie Dupont appointed director of dance at Paris Opera Ballet

Director of Paris Opera Stéphane Lissner announced the appointment of Benjamin Millepied’s successor as Aurélie Dupont at a press conference yesterday.

A former Étoile, Dupont entered the Paris Opera Ballet School in 1983 where she completed training and headed up the ranks: she joined the Paris Opera’s Corps de Ballet in 1989, was promoted to Coryphée in 1991 and Sujet in 1992, the same year she won the Gold Medal at the Varna International Dance Competition (junior category).

Dupont received the A.R.O.P (Association pour le Rayonnement de l’Opéra de Paris) Prize in 1993 and the Cercle Carpeaux in 1994, gaining Étoile status following her performance of Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote in 1990. She made her official farewell to the stage on 18 May 2015 following a performance of Kenneth MacMillan’s L’Histoire de Manon in which she performed the role of Manon.

38-year-old Millepied’s resignation as director of dance at Paris Opera Ballet kicked up something of a media storm earlier this week. The former New York City Ballet star is as much as celebrity as he is the leader of the historic dance corps, having fronted ad campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent and his much publicised 2012 marriage to Hollywood actress Natalie Portman, who he met in 2009 on the set of 2010 film Black Swan, in which he starred and choreographed.

The choreographer and dancer is expected to return to Los Angeles with his wife and children this summer, where he will expand his own company L.A. Dance Project,to include ballet in its repertoire. The Frenchman founded the non-profit company with composer Nico Muhly, art consultant Matthieu Humery, producer Charles Fabius and composer Nicholas Britell in 2012.

On his twitter feed Millepied posted a statement explaining his decision was influenced by a desire to spend 100 per cent of his time on creative and artistic projects and that he had enjoyed his time at the historic institution.

But his comments in the French documentary, Relève, broadcast on Canal Plus, in which he criticised the hierarchical cultural structure of the ballet and its lack of racial diversity, hint towards his frustration at managing a balancing act between modernisation and preservation.

Millepied’s glamorous star status has been credited with bolstering the fundraising coffers at the house, enhancing its digital presence via new platform 3e Scène, which features original works created for the website, such as Wendy Morgan’s étoiles, I see you with American dancer Lil Buck responding to the paintings at Palais Garnier.

The outgoing choreographer also commissioned William Forsyth to create new work for the house during his tenure.

Millepied will premiere The Night Ends tonight at the Palais Garnier on a mixed bill featuring work by Jérôme Bel and Robbins. His two new works for the 2016-17 will be announced next week.

Dupont will take up her position as the Paris Opera’s director of dance on 1 August 2016.