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Friday, September 28, 2012

Brigitte Lefèvre retiring in 2014

Update 24 January 2013: Benjamin Millepied has been named as the new director. For more info click here:

An article in today's Le Figaro

In office since 1995, Brigitte Lefèvre, director of dance at the Paris Opera, will be retiring in 2014. Her successor could be appointed before the end of the year.While the director of the Paris Opera Ballet School is appointed by decree of the Council of Ministers, the  director of the Opera alone chooses the ballet's artistic director. This appointment procedure - "behind closed doors" according to some critics - will be applied for the first time. It was set up by Hugues Gall when he directed the Paris Opera between 1995 and 2004. He felt it necessary that the person in charge of the Opera should have a ballet artistic director completely on the same wavelength as him, since the ballet ensures a considerable part of the revenue needed for opera productions.Without knowing whether or not his contract as head of the Paris Opera will be renewed, Nicolas Joel intends to appoint the new director of the dance. "It is the prerogative of the Director of the Opera," he says, and I intend to exercise it. I will announce the name in March, at the season launch . Maybe even sooner: Brigitte Lefèvre has already completed the programming for the 2014-2015 season and wants to spare the company of 150 dancers the uncertainties of a succession campaign."Regarding dance, Nicolas Joel relies on Brigitte Lefèvre, who organized a change in continuity. The heir apparent is already on site, a ballet master already associated with the ballet artistic direction  for two years:  Laurent Hilaire, 50.  Shaped by Nureyev, chosen by choreographers, and long-time partner of Sylvie Guillem long partner, he is also a great ballet master. 
Creations downWithin the company, he has a considerable rival: Nicolas Le Riche, a powerful dancer with irresistible charisma and sensuality, who succeeded Laurent Hilaire as Guillem's partner. His expected retirement in late 2013-2014 at age 42 and a half , would coincide with Brigitte Lefèvre's departure will go, and thus he has no experience as a company director. The influential Philippe Villin, an investment banker and vice president of the Paris Opera's friends association  (Arop) is actively campaigning for him as a candidate. Hilaire's and Le Riche's artistic plans are not known..Is it desirable, however, that the company, which is considered the best in the world, should led by a dancer , bu familiar with the company's inner workings but devoid of any outside experience? After twenty years Lefèvre, should we not cast our net wider? Especially since, in the coming times of recession, the Ballet absolutely must be led by a strong-minded person. It is certain that the house and the coffers will be filled with the perennial and unending Swan Lakes and Nutcrackers, it needs more innovative challenges to keep momentum and brilliance.  . Already, from five or six new creations a year, this season we had two. The stakes are high, and merit a search for a new Nureyev who will be determined, shape a generation of young stars, invent original projects will boost the company permanently. But does he exist?The great dancers like Sylvie Guillem, Manuel Legris, who is currently resurrecting the Vienna State Ballet in superb fashion, and Eric Vu An, director of the Nice-Méditerrannée, must be invited to apply, as well as choreographers versed in classical dance like Benjamin Millepied  or Jean-Christophe Maillot. Abroad, you can also think of Forsythe, familiar with the company since 1987 and Ratmansky, former director of the Bolshoi. It is not necessary to be French to properly direct the ballet. Today, the model remains Nureyev. It is true he read Saint-Simon to try to understand the functioning of the Opera ...

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