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By Claudia Bauer
The company will become transatlantic to remain under Benjamin Millepied’s direction.
LA Dance Project in Millepied’s Reflections. Photo by Laurent Philippe, Courtesy LA Dance Project.
It came as a surprise when the Paris Opéra Ballet announced last year that Benjamin Millepied would succeed Brigitte Lefèvre as the company director. Just four months prior, Millepied had launched LA Dance Project, a boutique contemporary company. His new position seemed to call the fledgling troupe’s future into question. What would become of LADP?
Millepied has said he will continue to direct the company, curating repertory from Paris, while LADP remains headquartered in Los Angeles, close to key partners like its new performance home, the Ace Hotel. The emerging plan taps the company’s original “artist collective” structure. “LADP was not set up on a traditional model,” he says. “From the start, I did not want to be the father figure. We all contribute ideas.” Millepied’s collaborators—composer Nico Muhly, art consultant Matthieu Humery and producers Charles Fabius and Nicholas Britell—remain committed. And to help manage day-to-day operations, Sébastien Marcovici, who will retire as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet on March 1, has been named ballet master. Current ballet master Charlie Hodges will become rehearsal director. Former NYCB dancer James Fayette is also coming on board as company manager.
The unconventional structure may help with logistical hurdles. And thanks to LADP’s heavy European touring schedule, Millepied will often work with the company’s eight dancers. (LADP performs this month in France.) Plus, recent events with sponsors like jeweler and major donor Van Cleef & Arpels have helped solidify the company’s financial base. Millepied has also hinted of future expansion among staff and dancers. In the end, he sees his position at the Paris Opéra as an advantage to his young troupe. “I have a completely different reach than I did a year ago,” he says. “I am seeing more, I have access to more, I am meeting more people.”