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Benjamin Millepied's LA Dance Project returns to a local stage

Dancers from the L.A. Dance Project.
Dancers from the L.A. Dance Project.
LA Dance Project
Dancers from the L.A. Dance Project.
Dancers from the L.A. Dance Project.
LA Dance Project

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Founded in 2012, L.A. Dance Project is a collective that seeks to bring contemporary dance back to the forefront of the Los Angeles arts scene by fostering a community of collaboration between artists in different media.

One if its most renowned founders is Benjamin Millepied, a dancer and choreographer who — among an impressive list of career highlights — was a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet for a decade and also choreographed and starred in Darren Aronofksy's ballet-turned-nightmare movie, "Black Swan."

L.A. Dance Project has rejuvenated the contemporary dance movement in Los Angeles. In anticipation of the troupe's three-night run at the Ace Hotel this weekend, we talked to's Rebecca Milzoff about L.A. Dance Project's history in Los Angeles and the show they'll have in store for the audience at the Ace Hotel Theater.

Interview Highlights:

On the Los Angeles dance world's reaction to the founding of L.A. Dance Project:

Initially there was some surprise at how quickly he was able to establish it. Also, there was a little bit of a knee-jerk reaction of, Oh, this is an L.A. company, but none of the dancers are actually from L.A. But I think that the company has really entrenched itself in the city and very much made itself an L.A. company — especially a downtown L.A. company. With all of the great cultural things that are happening there right now, I think the company has really been at the forefront of that.

On the audience that L.A. Dance Project brings to theaters:

It's certainly a much younger audience than you see at a lot of dance these days, which is encouraging. The company's performances at the Ace in L.A. have been a really vibrant, young audience. But there's some distance from "Black Swan" now, and the company's reputation is more attached to his name as a choreographer and — perhaps more because of the Paris news — his name is in the news.

On the "Paris news," that Benjamin will take over the directorship of the Paris Opera Ballet:

L.A. Dance Project was founded as a collaborative company — Benjamin is actually technically a co-founder — so [he] has never really been at L.A. Dance Project full-time. From conversations I've had with him recently, he plans to still do the group's programming. I think that he sees Paris as just another way of expanding L.A. Dance Project's audience. I actually went to a benefit for L.A. Dance Project in June and there was sort of palpable tension in the air, which Benjamin very quickly dissipated by saying that L.A. Dance Project remains his priority. I have to say that I believe it: I think that he's not just traveling through L.A., but I think that the company really has a deeper connection for him.

On the program for the upcoming L.A. shows:

The program in L.A. will be slightly different from New York [last weekend]. There's a new piece by Benjamin that we didn't get to see, set to a Philip Glass score. One of Benjamin's strengths as a choreographer is he's very intelligent about music; he's very adventurous with exploring new music and he's worked with Glass's music before, so that should be interesting. They're going to premiere a piece by Emanuel Gat, who's a contemporary Israeli choreographer. This is a piece called "Morgan's Last Chug" that is, I believe, inspired by some time that Gat spent in L.A. And they'll also be doing [William] Forsythe's "Quintett," which we saw [in New York].

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