Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Music Center is giving birth"

The Music Center is giving birth to a splashy, blue-chip contemporary ballet company devoted to artistic experimentation, with a Hollywood pedigree, to boot.

L.A. Dance Project, founded and directed by Benjamin Millepied, is being launched with a commission, expected to last two years, from Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center. Millepied, 34, is a highly sought-after choreographer with ties to major ballet troupes worldwide. He retired less than a month ago from his position as principal dancer with New York City Ballet.

Millepied leapt into the celebrity stratosphere when he started dating actress Natalie Portman, whom he met while working on the Darren Aronofsky movie “Black Swan.” The couple are engaged and have a 5-month-old son, Aleph. With Millepied's recent move out here, both now live in Los Angeles.

L.A. Dance Project will begin with just six dancers -– seven if Millepied performs -– and will have its premiere Sept. 22 and 23, 2012, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Music Center officials are announcing on Monday.

Millepied is not creating a traditional company but rather an “art collective,” bringing together some of his longtime friends and associates, including composer Nico Muhly and producer Charles Fabius. The goal is to collaborate with writers, artists and arts institutions in Los Angeles. One idea is to create a site-specific work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Millepied has begun talks with museum officials.

“To do a dance project today, and build a kind of vision, it’s so difficult that you cannot just take the old method,” Millepied said during an interview at a Silver Lake restaurant.

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