Born in Bordeaux France, Benjamin Millepied grew up in Senegal and began his dance training at the age of eight with his mother Catherine Flori, a former modern dancer, while learning track and field from his father Denys Millepied, a former Decathlete. From the age of thirteen to the age of sixteen he attended the Conservatoire National de Lyon, studying with Marie France Dieulevin and Michel Rahn. In the summer of 1992, Mr. Millepied came to New York City to attend the summer program at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet. The following year, he became a full-time student at the school, having received the “Bourse Lavoisier,” a scholarship award from the French Ministry. At SAB he studied with Stanley Williams and Adam Luders. In the 1994 SAB Spring Workshop, Mr. Millepied originated a principal role in Jerome Robbins’ 2 & 3 Part Inventions, set to music by J.S Bach. He was awarded the “Prix de Lausanne” the same year. In his last year at SAB, Mr. Millepied received the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise and was invited to become a member of New York City Ballet. In the spring of 2001, he was promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer at NYCB, where he remained until his retirement as a dancer in 2011.
Millepied danced principal roles in Ballts by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Millepied created roles in Ballets by Jerome Robbins, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Mauro Bigonzetti, Angelin Preljocaj, Peter Martins, to name a few.
Mr. Millepied started choreographing in 2001, and in 2002 he founded “Danses Concertantes”. The pick up company gathered different dancers for each tour and performed on during New York City Ballet’s off season. Over the course of 8 years Mr Millepied programmed new works and ballet repertory. The group performed toured the United States, France, England, Sweden.
From 2006 to 2007, Mr. Millepied was choreographer-in-residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. During his time at BAC, Mr. Millepied created the solo “Years Later” for Mikhail Baryshnikov. In 2007, he received the United States Artists Wynn Fellowship. In 2010, he was made Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture.
Mr. Millepied’s ballets are in the repertory of major dance companies around the world including the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pennsylvania Ballet, Berlin Staatsoper, the Mariinsky Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet de Geneve, the Lyon Opera Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, among others. Mr Millepied has commissioned many scores from composer Nico Muhly, but has also often choreographed to scores by living composers such as David Lang, Philip Glass, John Adams and Steve Reich. Mr Millepied has collaborated with many visual artists including Daniel Buren, Mark Bradford, Christopher Wool, Barbara Krueger, Paul Cox, United Visual Artists, and designers Rodarte, Alessandro Sartori, and Iris Van Herpen.
In 2010, Mr. Millepied choreographed and starred in Darren Aronofsky’s feature film Black Swan.
In 2012, Mr. Millepied moved to Los Angeles, where he conceived of and founded the L.A. Dance Project. L.A. Dance Project’s mission is to promote new collaborative work by emerging and established artists, and to revisit influential multidisciplinary dance collaborations from the past. The company creates innovative platforms for contemporary dance and expands the experience of dance and dance education to audiences of all ages.
Millepied is also a film director, he has directed numerous dance short films. In 2018, Millepied will make his directorial debut with a film musical adaptation of “Carmen”.
In January 2013 the Paris Opera Ballet announced Mr. Millepied’s appointment as its new Director. Mr Millepied programmed two seasons at Paris Opera before resigning in July 2016 and moving back to L.A to focus primarily on the development of his own company LA Dance project and his own work as a choreographer. During his tenure, Mr Millepied commissioned new Ballets for Paris Opera by Justin Peck, William Forsythe, Crystal Pite, Wayne McGregor and Jerome Bel, presented existing works by Anna Teresa Keersmaker, Maguy Marin, Boris Charmatz, Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, Merce Cunningham, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and commissioned new sets by UVA, John Baldessari, Christian Lacroix, new costumes by Karl Lagerfeld, Gareth Pugh, Marie Katrantzou, Iris Van Herpen, and solicited new music by composers Nico Muhly and James Blake. Another major initiative was the creation of a digital stage with the mission to invite artists from different horizons to create films inspired by the environment, the history, and the artists of the Opera.
In 2016, Millepied was the subject of the Documentary “Reset”, the film follows Millepied in the making of his first new ballet during his tenure as Director of the Paris Opera Ballet.
In July 2016, Benjamin came back full time atL.A Dance Project as its Artistic Director. Mr Millepied is committed to creating a company with a new artistic and economic model, something he feels is an important matter in this current time. LADP is the ideal platform for him to foster his vision for dance in the 21st Century. In April 2017, LADP announced moving into a new home in Downtown L.A, with its own performance space.
Mr. Millepied's choreographic style his is own -- fleet, with the body often arrested in sudden still positions that draw the eye to the beauty of line in classical ballet. His partnering is inventive without being overly manipulative. He is highly musical and although the ballet is abstract, the gestures and groupings often suggest a social world, evoking thoughts of friendship, love, power, isolation, fear and hardship.
"Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward" Paris Opera Ballet. 2015 NY Times
Écrin de gris tendu, costumes d'Iris van Herpen, Millepied dresse le portrait léché d'une génération vrillée d'inquiétudes. Très New York City Ballet dans le rapport de la danse à la musique, son écriture se distingue par sa manière de souligner la beauté des danseurs et l'extrême sophistication du dessin des groupes, qui s'enroulent ou se décalent dans des lignes, jouant le quinconce et la spirale, pour inventer une géométrie moelleuse qui épouse les mille lois de l'attraction des sexes.
Le Figaro, 2015 " Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward"
A buoyant, breezy, androgynous athleticism drives the choreography’s momentum, while fleeting moments of contact between dancers – casually matey, questioningly romantic, hotly intense – create a subtext of emotion that feels natural and very contemporary.As different as Millepied’s vocabulary is from Balanchine’s, he is his natural heir when it comes to making patterns. Hearts and Arrows proliferates, gorgeously, with staggered formations, braided currents, counterpoint and canon.
The Guardian 2016 "Hearts and Arrows"
His "Daphnis and Chloe", with décor by the french artist Daniel Buren, is that rarest of creatures: A new classical ballet that feels contemporary, not because it imposes a bit of extraneous modernity ( some electronic music; a little talking), but because of the sensibilities of its creators. Ravel's shimmering score, Mr Buren's restrained, color infused geometric forms that hover the stage, Madjid Hakimi's poetic, opalescent lighting and Mr Millepied's pared-down, fluid choreography, beautifully danced, combine to produce a work that realizes Fokine's century-old wishes.
The New York Times 2014. "Daphnis and Chloe"
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With the success of Millepied’s quicksilver “Hearts & Arrows,” I’d like to see a full engagement of L.A. Dance Project. He created this work in 2014, accompanied by Philip Glass’s String Quartet No. 3 (elegantly performed live at the Kennedy Center). “Hearts & Arrows” has a pronounced edge while also being solidly constructed, progressing toward a concluding note of breathtaking poignancy. The eight excellent dancers wore black ankle booties (hooray for added support for high-impact footwork) and shorts or skirts in a graph-paper pattern. Vertical lighting totems struck an industrial note. Amid the sharp angles, Millepied directed the eye to moments of warmth — a woman bounding away from her partner to throw herself protectively in front of the ensemble, guarding them from some evil; a man rising from a tight circle of dancers, as though he’s been birthed by their collective spirit. At the end, as the dancers lined up in progressive states of unfolding, it felt as though we were watching the evolution of something noble, vulnerable and interconnected in the human species.
Sarah L.Kaufman Washington Post, 2017