News

Benjamin Millepied to Direct and Choreograph Feature Film ​"Carmen"

Set to begin shooting in early 2018, Millepied's Carmen will be a modern-day retelling, setting the protagonist on a journey from Mexico to Los Angeles in pursuit of freedom. The film, described as a contemporary musical drama, will also feature an original score by Nicholas Britell, the Oscar-nominated composer of Moonlight. “The incorporation of music and drama in film is a cornerstone of my creativity and having such an experienced and talented team by my side gives me confidence that we will beautifully capture the story told in Carmen," Milliepied told Variety.

Carmen has had a long trajectory. Bizet's 1875 opera—which tells the doomed love story of a passionate Romani woman named Carmen and the naïve soldier Don José (whom she seduces and then leaves for a glamorous toreador)—is based off of Prosper Mérimée's 1845 novella. Upwards of 20 films have been made based on the story, as well as several ballets, most notably those by choreographers Roland Petit and Alberto Alonso. Only time will tell how Millepied will add his own contemporary take to this classic story.


Black Swan had mass appeal, and its audience extended far beyond the bubble of dancers and balletomanes. Given Millepied's rising celebrity status, Hollywood connections, and his collaboration with an experienced team, I'm excited to see the new ways that his Carmen will bring ballet into the public eye.

Ballet Training
Kali Kleiman performing at YAGP's New York Finals. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

As someone who has judged many ballet competitions, I've had the opportunity to see some breathtaking contemporary solos that combine fantastic technique with well-conceived choreography. Yet it's often hard for us judges to see the artistic intention behind these solos the way we can when watching a classical variation. For one thing, we're simply more familiar with classical ballet's repertoire and characters. But also, when a contemporary solo is just a string of one trick after another, or only delivers one emotion (such as overwrought angst), we don't get to see any artistic depth.

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Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Ballet Stars
Elle Macy in Benjamin Millepied's Appassionata. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Cross-training misconceptions: Before Elle Macy became an apprentice with Pacific Northwest Ballet, she was apprehensive about cross-training. "I was warned that it might bulk you, or not to do certain activities because they could potentially injure you." But a stress fracture in her foot changed her perspective. Unable to bear much weight, Macy reluctantly tried stationary biking at her physical therapist's suggestion. "What I learned is that you're not going to get injured from being on an elliptical for 20 minutes or by taking a Pilates class," says Macy. Today, it's not uncommon to find the soloist training on the elliptical, doing ankle stability exercises, using the Pilates reformer or taking a hot yoga class.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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