Stéphane Lissner (Director of the Paris Opera), Philippe Jordan (Music Director) and Benjamin Millepied (Dance Director). Photo © Elisa Haberer/ Opéra national de Paris

Stéphane Lissner (Director of the Paris Opera), Philippe Jordan (Music Director) and Benjamin Millepied (Dance Director).
Photo © Elisa Haberer/ Opéra national de Paris

David Mead

For his first season as Director of Dance at the Paris Opera Ballet, one that has a staggering164 performances (118 at the Palais Garnier and 46 at the Opéra Bastille), Benjamin Millepied has come up with a most interesting and eclectic programme. It’s one that focuses as much on his choice of scores as on his choice of choreographers.

One striking example is an evening devoted to Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker that adds three of her works to the company repertoire: “Quartet N°4”, to the music of Bartók, “Die grosse Fuge” to Beethoven, and “Verklärte Nacht” to Schönberg’s score. Also standing tall is an evening in honour of Pierre Boulez that brings Christopher Wheeldon’s well-known and outstanding “Polyphonia”, set to the music of Ligeti, a new work by Wayne McGregor to Boulez’s “Anthèmes II”, and the revival of Pina Bausch’s version of “Rite of Spring”.

William Forsythe joins the company as an Associate Choreographer and plans are afoot for him to participate actively in the Dance Academy. An evening dedicated to him will include a new version of “Approximate Sonata”, a creation to music by James Blake; and of “Of Any If And” danced to music by Thom Willems.

There will be three other world premieres: one by Benjamin Millepied to an original score by Nico Muhly; one by Jérôme Bel and another by Justin Peck set to Francis Poulenc’s “Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D Minor”.

More choreography from America includes Jerome Robbins’ “Opus 19/The Dreamer” and “Goldberg Variations”, Alexei Ratmansky’s “Seven Sonatas”, George Balanchine’s “Duo Concertant” and “Brahms-Schönberg Quartet” and Peck’s “In Creases”.

Elsewhere, Maguy Marin will present her 2002 work, “Les Applaudissements ne se Mangent pas”, to music by Denis Mariotte; and Boris Charmatz will be offering a new version of “20 Danseurs pour le XXème Siècle in the public areas of the Palais Garnier.”

Three international companies will be making guest appearances: Batsheva Dance Company and English National Ballet (with “Le Corsaire”) will both be at the Palais Garnier, while Rosas will perform at the Centre Georges Pompidou.

The season also features three company revivals: Rudolf Nureyev’s “La Bayadère” and “Roméo et Juliette”, and “Giselle”.

The Paris Opera Ballet School will be presenting its “Démonstrations” and its annual production, the “Spectacle de l’École de danse”.

Away from Paris, the company will dance a Ratmansky/Balanchine/ Robbins/Peck programme at the Quartz National Theatre in Brest on May 11-13, 2015

The Opéra Bastille. Photo © Opéra national de Paris

The Opéra Bastille.
Photo © Opéra national de Paris

As with most companies, the Paris Opera Ballet is seeking to widen its audience, and throughout the season will be running various initiatives to do just that including offering 25,000 tickets for Avant-premieres at 10 euros for under-28s. Off-stage events will include “20 Danseurs pour le XXème Siècle” (20 Dancers for the 20th Century) by Boris Charmatz, a celebration of 20th century dance performed by 20 dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet who will invite theatregoers to stroll through the public areas of the Palais Garnier. Each evening, 1,000 people will be able to attend for a flat rate of 15 euros.

Subscriptions are now on sale. Individual tickets will be available from May 26, approximately 3-4 months before the first performance of each production.

For full details of the season, which opens officially with a gala on September 24, click here.