′Black Swan′ choreographer Millepied leaves Paris ballet | Arts | DW | 04.02.2016
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'Black Swan' choreographer Millepied leaves Paris ballet

Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed the film "Black Swan" and married its star, Natalie Portman, is leaving the Paris Opera Ballet after publically criticizing it.

After just over a year as director of Paris's elite ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet, Benjamin Millepied announced Thursday (04.02.2016) in a statement that he would be leaving for "personal reasons." However, he's recently faced tension with the management at the company over reform plans.

"I have decided to end my time as director of dance," said Millepied, adding that he wanted to "concentrate 100 percent on creating" rather than administration. The 38-year-old had risen to fame as principal dancer at the New York City Ballet before returning to France to take the position at the Paris Opera Ballet.

Dozens of fans took to Millepied's Facebook page to express their sadness at his departure and encourage him to stay, even writing, "Je suis Benjamin."

Natalie Portman and husband Benjamin Millepied at Cannes Film Festival 2015, Copyright: Getty Images/AFP/A.-C. Poujoulat

Millepied and Portman are pictured at the Cannes Film Festival last year

Millepied contributed to the 2010 ballet-themed Hollywood thriller "Black Swan," starring Natalie Portman, who won an Oscar for her performance. The two met on the set in 2009. They had a son in 2011 and married the following year.

Millepied's departure comes on the heels of tension with the board of the Paris ballet company. In a documentary film which aired on Canal+ in December 2015, he criticized the institution as too set in its ways, claiming it was no longer as "excellent" as it claimed to be.

In an interview with "Style Report" fashion magazine, he lamented that "even musicals are more daring than new ballet." He also disapproved what he saw as lack of diversity.

"I think it's very important that the company resembles Paris and not the old-school form of racism that ballet companies need to be white," Millepied said in the interview.

The choreographer and dancer has said, however, that he would like to continue working with the Paris Opera Ballet this season, and perhaps in years to come.

kbm/eg (AP, AFP)

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