01/25/2013 08:02 am ET

Benjamin Millepied Answers Questions About His New Post With Paris Opera Ballet

The journalists who arrived this morning at the Palais Garnier for the news conference introducing Benjamin Millepied as the new director of dance at the Paris Opera were ushered into the grandly proportioned office of its general director, Nicolas Joel. "I am sure that Serge Lifar came in frequently through this door to demand more for his ballet company," he said. Then he looked at Brigitte Lefèvre, who has directed the Paris Opera Ballet since 1995. "It's a tradition that has continued."
When Ms. Lefèvre retires in 2014, tradition will be in the hands of Mr. Millepied, the 35-year old choreographer and former New York City Ballet principal dancer, who was today formally confirmed as the company's new director, to the surprise of many who expected a Paris Opera insider to get the job. Mr. Joel, speaking first, warmly praised Ms. Lefèvre for raising the standard of the company and vastly broadening its repertoire, then added appreciation for Laurent Hilare, a former etoile who is Ms. Lefèvre's deputy and who was considered a likely candidate.

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