February 4, 2016 / 3:02 PM / 3 years ago

'Black Swan' choreographer Millepied stepping down as Paris Opera dance director

PARIS (Reuters) - French choreographer Benjamin Millepied said on Thursday he was stepping down as director of dance at the Paris Opera after little more than a year in the role, citing personal reasons.

Benjamin Millepied, French dancer, choreographer and director of dance of the Paris National Opera (Opera National de Paris), directs dancers during the rehearsal of "Hearts and Arrows", a creation for L.A. Dance Project company at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris April 8, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The 38-year old — who is married to Hollywood actress Natalie Portman and collaborated with her on the 2010 ballet drama “Black Swan” — will be replaced by former ballerina Aurelie Dupont.

“I salute the choice of Aurelie Dupont. I was much honored (being ballet director) but what’s important to me is to create, to be inspired by the dancers, and today this job, as it exists, is not made for me,” Millepied told a packed news conference at the Palais Garnier.

Millepied, who explained he wanted to focus on “creation and artistic expression”, said he would continue to work with the Paris Opera for the current season.

Paris Opera director Stephane Lissner paid tribute to Millepied, saying: “He brought a lot to the ballet.

“Being the ballet director and a much sought-after choreographer was causing him trouble ... Aurelie will bring a lot of other things (when) she takes up her post in September.”

Millepied had directed the Paris Opera ballet since November 2014.

The 43-year-old Dupont, who started her career at the Ecole de Danse of the Opera as an 11-year-old and ended it last Spring, hinted that her Ballet might be more traditional than under Millepied.

“He brought a lot of contemporary choreographers... and new choreographic experiences,” she said.

“I will do my best, I promise. I love the dancers, deeply. I want to give the Etoiles the ballets in which they will shine.

“To me the Opera de Paris remains a classical dancers’ company open to contemporary dance and it’s not the other way around.”

Editing by Catherine Evans

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