Home>Masterclass by Benjamin Millepied on creativity and artistic integrity

30.09.2022

Masterclass by Benjamin Millepied on creativity and artistic integrity

Benjamin Millepied
Benjamin Millepied  (credits: © Morgan Lugo

)

Wednesday, 29 September, Benjamin Millepied, dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, and director of the L.A Dance Project, shone bright on the Chapsal stage at Sciences Po’s 27 Saint-Guillaume campus. He was the first guest speaker of the “RV de la Création” new season and chose the rather mysterious topic of “Space and creation”. Those creative masterclasses organised every year by the School of Management and Impact feature an artist (a dancer, a musician, an architect, a cook, a designer, etc.) invited to discuss with the students about their creative process and artistic point of view. As Natacha Valla, Dean of the School, explained when introducing the renowned dancer, the students can benefit from learning from creators if they wish to work in the creative industries sector. The journalist Alexandre Kouchner, moderator of the discussion, adds, “You will help them create or create the context in which they will create if you do not create yourself.

Dancing as “the raw expression of life

Benjamin Millepied gave the students of the School of Management and Impact a precious insight into his professional path as well as the earlier roots of his passion for different forms of artistic expression.

Growing up in Senegal, the guest speaker feels like he has been “dancing all his life”. He explained to the students the true joy and “the raw expression of life” that dancing represents. He then reinforced technically his dancing skills by learning ballet in Lyon at 11. He became a professional dancer at 17 and was set from the get-go on going to the New York City Ballet, where he felt like dancers were free to express themselves and where the focus on music was an important part of the company’s identity. 

A strong admirer of George Balanchine’s choreographies in New York, the dancer expressed pretty soon in his career his interest for choreography. He remembers that one of his first creation as a child was to dance on the poems of Louis Aragon adapted musically by Leo Ferré, a Sciences Po alumni! This new path was the perfect way for Benjamin Millepied to explore his interest in filming and photographing by creating mixed arts shows. Indeed, the artist fell in love during his teenage years with taking pictures (with his grandfather camera) and filming short documentaries. He uses his skills in his latest show presented in Paris, Romeo and Juliet : the dancers share the stage with a screen that shows live filming of their performance.

The love between the masterclass guest and the cinema world is mutual. Not only was he asked to choreograph iconic scenes such as the dancing pieces of Black Swan or the Sand Walk in the latest Dune, but he even directed his first movie, Carmen, this year. A natural step for an artist who considers that “being a great director is being a great choreographer”, it is only “one degree further on controlling the eye of the spectator”.

Directing a dance company: “dancers are everything

As director and founder of the L.A. Dance Project (LADP) since 2012, Benjamin Millepied took the opportunity of this unique masterclass to give advice to the students of the School of Management and Impact on how to work with artistic talents such as dancers.

He explained that a particularity of his dance company is some dancers barely dance when he recruits them, he trusts his gut feeling about their potential. The key words of his relationship towards his dancers could be respect and curiosity, he chooses people he’s “drawn to” and he finds “interesting”. It’s then a mutual work to build the “living sculpture” that is a dance performance. The director loves seeing the “incidents”, what dancers bring to the table. The perfect example he gave to the students is a scene from “Serenade”, a famous ballet by George Balanchine in which the dancers are forming a triangle in a uniform movement and one dancer comes from out of the stage in a beautiful flowing addition: it actually came from a rehearsal in which a dancer was late!

Benjamin Millepied tried to explain to the student audience how to manage a show economically without compromising one’s artistic integrity. He gave the example of his show “Romeo and Juliet”, which 11 dates were sold out. He thrives when working under constraints: to manage the budget, he produced the show with 16 dancers, 25 neons, one screen, and one camera. He worked with a scene made for rock concerts, he made his own cut of the music, without compromising his vision. He chose to bet on a rotating cast, some evening the iconic couple would be a man and a woman, some evenings it would be two men and some other two women. Such a modern take on the famous ballet was an obvious choice to him, it only represents what is a reality among dancers as well as the broader public. As a former Opera of Paris dance director, Benjamin Millepied cannot bare anymore to hear that “things have always been done this way”... When dancers performed on the steps of the Garnier Opera during the Covid crisis, some passers-by had never seen anything like it and were deeply touched. The artist believes the public wants to be included, and represented.

Alexandre Kouchner concluded the masterclass by ambushing the renowned dancer with a custom: every guest of the “RV de la Création” should create something live. As an expert of “moving bodies through space”, Benjamin Millepied co-created with the audience a 7 moves short choreography that ended on a symbolic and literal fist raised to the sky.

MORE INFORMATION:

Watch the masterclass' full replay

Master in Communication, Media and Creative Industries

Sciences Po’s School of Management and Impact

The new educational strategy of the School of Management and Impact

30.09.2022

Masterclass by Benjamin Millepied on creativity and artistic integrity

Benjamin Millepied
Benjamin Millepied  (credits: © Morgan Lugo

)

Wednesday, 29 September, Benjamin Millepied, dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, and director of the L.A Dance Project, shone bright on the Chapsal stage at Sciences Po’s 27 Saint-Guillaume campus. He was the first guest speaker of the “RV de la Création” new season and chose the rather mysterious topic of “Space and creation”. Those creative masterclasses organised every year by the School of Management and Impact feature an artist (a dancer, a musician, an architect, a cook, a designer, etc.) invited to discuss with the students about their creative process and artistic point of view. As Natacha Valla, Dean of the School, explained when introducing the renowned dancer, the students can benefit from learning from creators if they wish to work in the creative industries sector. The journalist Alexandre Kouchner, moderator of the discussion, adds, “You will help them create or create the context in which they will create if you do not create yourself.

Dancing as “the raw expression of life

Benjamin Millepied gave the students of the School of Management and Impact a precious insight into his professional path as well as the earlier roots of his passion for different forms of artistic expression.

Growing up in Senegal, the guest speaker feels like he has been “dancing all his life”. He explained to the students the true joy and “the raw expression of life” that dancing represents. He then reinforced technically his dancing skills by learning ballet in Lyon at 11. He became a professional dancer at 17 and was set from the get-go on going to the New York City Ballet, where he felt like dancers were free to express themselves and where the focus on music was an important part of the company’s identity. 

A strong admirer of George Balanchine’s choreographies in New York, the dancer expressed pretty soon in his career his interest for choreography. He remembers that one of his first creation as a child was to dance on the poems of Louis Aragon adapted musically by Leo Ferré, a Sciences Po alumni! This new path was the perfect way for Benjamin Millepied to explore his interest in filming and photographing by creating mixed arts shows. Indeed, the artist fell in love during his teenage years with taking pictures (with his grandfather camera) and filming short documentaries. He uses his skills in his latest show presented in Paris, Romeo and Juliet : the dancers share the stage with a screen that shows live filming of their performance.

The love between the masterclass guest and the cinema world is mutual. Not only was he asked to choreograph iconic scenes such as the dancing pieces of Black Swan or the Sand Walk in the latest Dune, but he even directed his first movie, Carmen, this year. A natural step for an artist who considers that “being a great director is being a great choreographer”, it is only “one degree further on controlling the eye of the spectator”.

Directing a dance company: “dancers are everything

As director and founder of the L.A. Dance Project (LADP) since 2012, Benjamin Millepied took the opportunity of this unique masterclass to give advice to the students of the School of Management and Impact on how to work with artistic talents such as dancers.

He explained that a particularity of his dance company is some dancers barely dance when he recruits them, he trusts his gut feeling about their potential. The key words of his relationship towards his dancers could be respect and curiosity, he chooses people he’s “drawn to” and he finds “interesting”. It’s then a mutual work to build the “living sculpture” that is a dance performance. The director loves seeing the “incidents”, what dancers bring to the table. The perfect example he gave to the students is a scene from “Serenade”, a famous ballet by George Balanchine in which the dancers are forming a triangle in a uniform movement and one dancer comes from out of the stage in a beautiful flowing addition: it actually came from a rehearsal in which a dancer was late!

Benjamin Millepied tried to explain to the student audience how to manage a show economically without compromising one’s artistic integrity. He gave the example of his show “Romeo and Juliet”, which 11 dates were sold out. He thrives when working under constraints: to manage the budget, he produced the show with 16 dancers, 25 neons, one screen, and one camera. He worked with a scene made for rock concerts, he made his own cut of the music, without compromising his vision. He chose to bet on a rotating cast, some evening the iconic couple would be a man and a woman, some evenings it would be two men and some other two women. Such a modern take on the famous ballet was an obvious choice to him, it only represents what is a reality among dancers as well as the broader public. As a former Opera of Paris dance director, Benjamin Millepied cannot bare anymore to hear that “things have always been done this way”... When dancers performed on the steps of the Garnier Opera during the Covid crisis, some passers-by had never seen anything like it and were deeply touched. The artist believes the public wants to be included, and represented.

Alexandre Kouchner concluded the masterclass by ambushing the renowned dancer with a custom: every guest of the “RV de la Création” should create something live. As an expert of “moving bodies through space”, Benjamin Millepied co-created with the audience a 7 moves short choreography that ended on a symbolic and literal fist raised to the sky.

MORE INFORMATION:

Watch the masterclass' full replay

Master in Communication, Media and Creative Industries

Sciences Po’s School of Management and Impact

The new educational strategy of the School of Management and Impact