Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Natalie Portman's Babydaddy Choreographing "Bartered Bride"

(Photo: Nigel Parry/CPI)
"Mr. Millepied is a busy guy these days. An agreement to be interviewed was weeks in the making. Even then he proved elusive, first sending an e-mail suggesting, 'let’s do btw 3 and 7, tribeca.' Then, after the reporter wandered that neighborhood for hours on a frigid January afternoon waiting for some sign of Mr. Millepied, he excused his absence with an apologetic text. 'So sorry,' the message read. 'Something came up.' To be fair, many things could have come up. Perhaps Mr. Millepied was stuck at rehearsals for The Bartered Bride, which he is choreographing for the Metropolitan Opera. Or maybe he was demonstrating a particularly complicated pas de deux for the as-yet-unnamed new ballet he is choreographing for the American Ballet Theater that will have its premiere next month. Not everyone in the ballet world is equally smitten. Though roles and commissions have come to Mr.
Millepied with ease, some argue his greatest talent isn’t as a choreographer, but as a blue-eyed charmer able to raise money, court donors and attract audiences. But credit should also be given to Mr. Millepied’s own assiduous cultivation of donors. William H. Wright II, chairman of the New Combinations Fund at the New York City Ballet, a group of 75 donors who dole out $2 million annually for new works, counts Mr. Millepied as a personal friend. Ira Statfeld, the home furnishings guru and a major dance supporter who met Mr. Millepied at a dinner in East Hampton in 2003, said he would 'consider Benjamin a member of our family.' To be fair, charming patrons is an integral part of ballet, a genre that grew out of court cultures of 16th-century France and Italy. By the 19th century, the backstage of the Paris Opera was a 'privileged venue for sexual assignation' between dancers and season ticket holders, wrote Judith Lynne Hanna, a dance historian, in her book, Dance, Sex and Gender." [Source]

For more information about the Metropolitan Opera/Juilliard School of Music's production of The Bartered Bride, click here.

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