Benjamin Millepied

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Benjamin Millepied
Millepied in 2015
Born (1977-06-10) 10 June 1977 (age 46)
Years active2001–present
(m. 2012; div. 2024)
Current groupL.A. Dance Project and Chesta Tony production Mobile Alabama
Former groupsNew York City Ballet

Benjamin Millepied (French pronunciation: [bɛ̃ʒamɛ᷉ milpje]; born 10 June 1977)[1] is a French dancer and choreographer, who has lived and worked in the United States since joining the New York City Ballet in 1995, where he became a soloist in 1998 and a principal in 2002. He has also created choreography for the company, and choreographed pieces for other major companies. He retired from the NYCB in 2011.

He initiated the LA Dance Project, leading it from 2011 to 2014. He was the Director of Dance at the Paris Opera Ballet from October 2014 to 2016. He choreographed and performed as a dancer in the 2010 movie Black Swan, and choreographed the "sandwalk" in Dune.[2]

Early life[edit]

Millepied was born in Bordeaux, France.[3] He is the youngest of three sons.[4] His ballet training started at the age of eight with his mother, Catherine Flory, a former ballet dancer. His father is Denys Millepied.[5][6] Between the ages of 13 and 16, he studied with Michel Rahn at the Conservatoire National in Lyon, France.


In the summer of 1992 Millepied attended classes at the School of American Ballet (SAB) and returned to study full-time in 1993, with a scholarship from the French Ministry (Bourse Lavoisier or Lavoisier Scholarship). Early in his career, Millepied was mentored by choreographer Jerome Robbins, who took an interest in him.[7] At SAB's 1994 Spring Workshop he originated a principal role in Jerome Robbins' premiere of 2 and 3 Part Inventions and also received the Prix de Lausanne.

New York City Ballet, 1995–2011[edit]

Millepied joined New York City Ballet's corps de ballet in 1995, was promoted to soloist in 1998[3] and became principal dancer in 2002.[8]

Millepied also became a choreographer, creating dances for City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the School of American Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera Ballet, Ballet de Genève, and his own company, Danses Concertantes.[9][10][11] From 2006 to 2007, he was choreographer-in-residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York.

On 26 October 2011, the media announced that Millepied would retire from New York City Ballet.[12][13]

L.A. Dance Project, 2011–present[edit]

In 2011, L.A. Dance Project, founded and directed by Millepied, was launched with a commission, expected to last two years, from Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Los Angeles Music Center. The company's operating budget is about $1 million a year.[14] Millepied partnered with composer Nico Muhly, producer Charles Fabius, composer Nicholas Britell, and Matthieu Humery to found the company.[15] In 2012, L.A. Dance Project established a full-time residence at Los Angeles Theatre Center[16] with the objective of presenting new works throughout the city. L.A. Dance Project's inaugural performance, commissioned by The Music Center was held at Walt Disney Concert Hall on 22 September 2012.

Later that year, Millepied and L.A. Dance Project dancer Amanda Wells performed a 30-minute duet entitled "Framework" at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The dance collective's first program featured a Millepied premiere, Moving Parts, with a score by Muhly and visual design by painter Christopher Wool. The program also includes a revival of Merce Cunningham's 1964 Winterbranch, a movement exploration of falling bodies set to a mostly two-note score by La Monte Young, and William Forsythe's Quintett, a 1993 study in loss and hope to avant-garde composer Gavin Bryar's composition Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet.[15] Millepied's collaborators include Rodarte, Barbara Kruger, and Alex Israel, a contemporary California painter and video artist.[14]

The premiere of "Reflections" by Millepied took place at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on 23 April 2013. In 2013, L.A. Dance Project continued to tour at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Istanbul, Spoleto Festival in Italy, Edinburgh International Festival, La Maison de la Danse in Lyon, France and Sadler's Wells Theatre in London. In September 2013, at Maison de la Danse in Lyon, the company premiered two new pieces. The first premiere was Murder Ballads, choreographed by Justin Peck with music by Bryce Dessner. Next on the program was the premiere of Morgan's Last Chug choreographed and with light and sound design by Emanuel Gat.

In January 2014, L.A. Dance Project announced that its new home venue would be the Theatre at Ace Hotel.[17] By June 2016, L.A. Dance Project formed a three-year partnership with the LUMA Foundation in Arles, France, offering the nine-member company a continuing residency and performance space in the foundation's Parc des Ateliers.[18] L.A. Dance Project will spend five non-consecutive weeks a year in Arles, where the company will be able to work, create and produce.[19]

Paris Opera Ballet, 2014–2016[edit]

In January 2013, the Paris Opera Ballet announced that Millepied had accepted the position of director of dance.[20] He officially succeeded Brigitte Lefèvre on 15 October 2014.

During his time at the Paris Opera Ballet, Millepied brought in William Forsythe as an associate choreographer and collaborator on the new Academy, an in-house training program for choreographers. Millepied's first season opened with a celebrity-filled gala that raised over a million euros. He also established a digital platform for new work and organized dancer exchanges with the Mariinsky and American Ballet Theatre.[21]

Reset, a ballet documentary by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai, featured Millepied as he mounted his first production as director of the Paris Opera ballet. It premiered in France on Canal+ in December 2015. It later had its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.[22]

Millepied resigned from the Paris Opera Ballet on 4 February 2016 and was succeeded by Aurélie Dupont.[23]

Other activities[edit]

Millepied has commissioned and collaborated with contemporary composers including David Lang, Nico Muhly, Thierry Escaich, Daniel Ott, and Philip Glass.[11][24] The Jerome Robbins Trust and Foundation has underwritten Millepied's work and donors include philanthropists Anne Bass and Arlene Cooper.[25]

In 2001, Millepied's dancing was motion-captured for the animated children's film Barbie in the Nutcracker, along with that of other New York City Ballet dancers. His dancing was again captured for the 2003 Barbie film Barbie of Swan Lake.

In 2009, he served as choreographer for Black Swan, a psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky which stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis as ballet dancers in New York City. He also danced and appeared in the film.[26] In 2010, he was the leading man in a short film co-directed by Asa Mader and starring Léa Seydoux, called Time Doesn't Stand Still.[25]

In 2012, Millepied founded The Amoveo Company, a multimedia production company and art collective. He has directed a number of short films in collaboration with various artists, including Mark Bradford, Philip Glass, IO Echo, Zeds Dead, and Lil Buck.

On the invitation of Los Angeles Music Center board member and TV host Nigel Lythgoe, Millepied was a guest judge on the dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance on 22 August 2012.[27]

In 2014, Millepied became the Artistic Advisor of the new Dance Academy at the Colburn School in Downtown Los Angeles, joining fellow former-principal dancers with the New York City Ballet, Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette.[28]


In 1994, he received the Prix de Lausanne and the next year, he was the recipient of the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise.[29]

In 2010, he was made Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Millepied with wife Natalie Portman in 2012

Millepied met actress Natalie Portman on the set of Black Swan in early 2009[31] and left his partner at the time, Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, to begin a relationship with Portman.[32][33][34] Millepied and Portman wed in a Jewish ceremony held in Big Sur, California on 4 August 2012.[35][36] The family lived in Paris for a time, after Millepied accepted the position of director of dance with the Paris Opera Ballet.[37][38] They have two children: a son (b. 2011)[39] and a daughter (b. 2017).[40] In January 2014, Millepied said he was in the process of converting to Judaism (his wife's faith).[41] In 2016, the family moved from Paris to Los Angeles.[42][43] Portman and Millepied separated in 2023 after it was reported that Millepied was involved in an extramarital affair. They divorced in March 2024.[44][45]


Year Title Venue Notes
2001 Passages Conservatoire National
2002 Clapping Music Music by Steve Reich
Triple Duet Sadler's Wells Theatre Music by J. S. Bach
2003 Double Aria Bay Street Theater
2004 On The Other Side Sadler's Wells Theatre
2005 24 Variations of a Theme by Paganini School of American Ballet
Circular Motion Florence Gould Hall
2006 Closer Joyce Theater Music and live accompaniment by Philip Glass
Amoveo Paris Opera Ballet Set designs by Paul Cox, costumes by Marc Jacobs
2009 Everything Doesn't Happen At Once Avery Fisher Hall Music by David Lang
Quasi Una Fantasia New York City Ballet
2010 Plainspoken Music by David Lang
Why am I not where you are Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Music by Thierry Escaich, scenery by Santiago Calatrava
One Thing Leads to Another Het National Ballet Music by Nico Muhly, costumes by Rodarte
2011 Troika American Ballet Theatre
The Bartered Bride Metropolitan Opera
2012 Khovanshchina

Originated roles[edit]

Year Title Choreographer Notes
1997 Slavonic Dances Christopher Wheeldon Part of the Diamond Project
Brandenburg Jerome Robbins
La Stravaganza Angelin Preljocaj
1998 Les Noces Jerome Robbins
Concerti Armonici Peter Martins
1999 Swan Lake
2000 Prism Helgi Tómasson Part of the Diamond Project
2002 If By Chance Melissa Barak
Twilight Courante Stephen Baynes
Hallelujah Junction Peter Martins
2003 Guide to Strange Places
2004 Circle of Fifths Christopher d'Amboise
Musagète Boris Eifman
Octet Peter Martins

Featured roles[edit]


Year Film Role Notes
2001 Barbie in the Nutcracker New York City Ballet Dancer
2003 Barbie of Swan Lake New York City Ballet Dancer
2010 Black Swan David Moreau/The Prince
2011 Time Doesn't Stand Still[citation needed] Lui Short film
2012 Aria[citation needed] Director Short
2012 Bacchanale[citation needed] Director Short
2012 IO Echo: Eye Father[citation needed] Director Music video
2012 IO Echo: Stalemate[citation needed] Director Music video
2012 Naran Ja [46] Creative Director Short
2012 Medusa[citation needed] Director Short
2012 Framework[citation needed] Choreographer & Dancer Short
2013 Zeds Dead: Demons[citation needed] Director Music video
2013 Reflections[citation needed] Director Short
2014 Forest Swords: The Weight Of Gold[47] Director Music video
2022 Carmen Director Feature film

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vernay, Marie-Christine (27 October 2009). "Les mille et une vies de Benjamin Millepied (The Many Lives of Benjamin Millepied)". Libération (in French). (English translation via Google)
  2. ^ Christian Holub (24 October 2021). "How Dune choreographed Timothée Chalamet's sandwalk". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 18 February 2024.
  3. ^ a b "NYCB biography for Benjamin Millepied". New York City Ballet. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  4. ^ "BENJAMIN MILLEPIED: LORD OF THE DANCE" Archived 19 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Details. June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  5. ^ BENJAMIN MILLEPIED - Biography Archived 4 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Benjamin Millepied : la danse en héritage". 2 September 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  7. ^ Milzoff, Rebecca (10 May 2009). "Regarding Benjamin Millepied". New York Magazine.
  8. ^ "Moving Up the Ballet Company Ranks". The New York Times. 6 June 2002. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  9. ^ Herschthal, Eric (30 September 2009). "Everything Is Happening for Millepied". The New York Observer.
  10. ^ Jowitt, Deborah (12 December 2008). "Benjamin Millepied Takes A Very Big Leap Forward". Village Voice.
  11. ^ a b "Official Website Biography". Archived from the original on 4 May 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  12. ^ "Benjamin Millepied, 'Black Swan' choreographer, leaving City Ballet". LA Times Blogs. 26 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Millepied Retires From City Ballet". The New York Times. 26 October 2011.
  14. ^ a b Brooks Barnes (18 October 2012), Giant Steps for Dance in Los Angeles The New York Times.
  15. ^ a b Laura Bleiberg (5 July 2012), Benjamin Millepied and Music Center announce L.A. Dance Project Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ David Ng (5 July 2012), Benjamin Millepied finds home for L.A. Dance Project in downtown Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ Mike Boehm (14 January 2014), Millepied's L.A. Dance Project finds home: 1927 downtown theater Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ Roslyn Sulcas (10 June 2016), L.A. Dance Project Forms Partnership With Luma Foundation The New York Times.
  19. ^ David Ng (14 June 2016), L.A. Dance Project lands three-year residency in Arles, France Los Angeles Times.
  20. ^ Sulcas, Roslyn (24 January 2013). "Paris Opera Ballet Picks Outsider for New Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  21. ^ Roslyn Sulcas (4 February 2016), Who Is Benjamin Millepied and Why Is He Leaving the Paris Ballet? The New York Times.
  22. ^ Patrick Hipes (22 April 2016), Benjamin Millepied Ballet Docu ‘Reset’ Lands At FilmRise – Tribeca Deadline Hollywood.
  23. ^ "Benjamin Millepied: New Director of Danse". Paris Opera Ballet. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
  24. ^ Milzoff, Rebecca (24 August 2007). "The Young and the Tireless". New York Magazine.
  25. ^ a b Joshua David Stein (2 February 2011), Benjamin Millepied Leaps Into the Spotlight The New York Times.
  26. ^ Kourlas, Gia (December 2009). "On The Rise: Benjamin Millepied and Cory Stearns bring passion and intensity to New York's legendary ballet houses". Variety. Archived from the original on 6 January 2010.
  27. ^ Justin Ravitz (23 August 2012), Natalie Portman's Husband Benjamin Millepied Guest Judges on So You Think You Can Dance! Us Weekly.
  28. ^ Ng, David (21 February 2014). "Colburn School partners with L.A. Dance Project to train youths". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 March 2024.
  29. ^ "Millepied Benjamin (biography on Athens & Epidaurus Festival 2017's website)".[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ Remler, AC (24 August 2012). "Choreographer Benjamin Millepied to Work with the Industry's Yuval Sharon". KCET.
  31. ^ Jordan, Julie (27 December 2010). "Natalie Portman Is Engaged and Pregnant!". People.
  32. ^ Jennings, Luke (7 February 2016). "Benjamin Millepied: ballet's black swan bows out in Paris". The Observer. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Millepied Leaves Ballerina Isabella Boylston for Natalie Portman". OK! magazine. 28 December 2010. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011.
  34. ^ Jennings, Luke (7 February 2016). "Benjamin Millepied: ballet's black swan bows out in Paris". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  35. ^ "Natalie Portman Wedding: 'Black Swan' Actress Marries Benjamin Millepied" Archived 7 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine. HuffPost. 5 August 2012.
  36. ^ "Natalie Portman Marries Benjamin Millepied" Archived 7 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine, People, 5 August 2012.
  37. ^ Sulcas, Roslyn (January 24, 2013). "Paris Opera Ballet Picks Outsider for New Director". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 10, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  38. ^ Real, Evan (August 26, 2016). "Natalie Portman Is Happy to Be Back in L.A. After Living in France: 'Everyone Smiles Here!'". US Magazine. Archived from the original on September 9, 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  39. ^ "Benjamin Millepied, Natalie Portman Welcome Son". People. 30 October 2018. Archived from the original on 30 October 2018. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  40. ^ "Natalie Portman Gives Birth to Daughter Amalia Millepied". E! News. 3 March 2017. Archived from the original on 3 March 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  41. ^ "Benjamin Millepied To Share Jewish Faith Of His Wife Natalie Portman: Choreographer Announces Conversion Plans". HuffPost. 30 January 2014.
  42. ^ "Natalie Portman wants French citizenship for Paris move" Archived 16 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 September 2013.
  43. ^ "Confirmed! Natalie Portman, Benjamin Millepied Married! -". 1 March 2012. Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  44. ^ Rainews, Redazione di (9 March 2024). "Natalie Portman divorzia da Benjamin Millepied, erano sposati dal 2012". RaiNews (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  45. ^ Leonard, Elizabeth (8 March 2024). "Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied Finalize Divorce After Quietly Separating Last Year (Exclusive)". People. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  46. ^ Naran Ja (One Act Orange Dance) — A Short Film By Iñárritu. 26 October 2012. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2015 – via YouTube.
  47. ^ "NOWNESS". Retrieved 18 December 2015.

External links[edit]