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Culture/FRANCE

Star choreographer Millepied quits Paris Opera Ballet

Choreographer Benjamin Millepied with wife Natalie Portman, at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival,
Choreographer Benjamin Millepied with wife Natalie Portman, at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Star choreographer Benjamin Millepied on Thursday announced he was quitting the Paris Opera Ballet, which he had been directing for more than a year. The French former dancer, who's the husband of Hollywood actor Natalie Portman, reportedly faced resistance to his plans to reform the institution, a bastion of classical ballet tradition.

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In announcing his resignation Millepied released a statement saying he wanted to "concentrate 100 percent on creating" rather than on administration.

His shock departure came only a day before the world premiere of his latest work at the ballet, ironically titled "The Night Ends".

The board of the ballet later named former principal ballerina Aurelie Dupont, 43, as his replacement.

Dupont was formerly a principal ballerina with the company.

Millepied attended a Paris Opera Ballet press conference at the opulent Palais Garnier theatre later on Thursday where he praised the choice of Dupont, describing her as his "muse" but declined to answer journalist questions.

Some watchers believe Millepied's relations with the board soured after he strongly criticised the way the ballet was run, in a documentary aired on the Canal+ television channel just before Christmas.

He claimed that the ballet was too hierarchical and set in its ways.

"I don't think we're in a golden age of ballet right now," he said as his frustration boiled over in another recent interview with a fashion website.

"Even musicals are more daring than new ballets!" he told Style Report.

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