Benjamin Millepied wasn’t as daring as Miriam with her timbrels when he accompanied L.A. Dance Project, the experimental dance troupe of his creation, to a performance at American Jewish University on June 16.
Following the unique double-bill with another local company, BodyTraffic, the choreographer and dancer -- also known as actress Natalie Portman’s husband -- appeared on a panel with BodyTraffic co-founders Tina Berkett and Lillian Barbeito for a dialogue advertised as a discussion of Judaism’s impact on their work.
It promised to be a revealing moment.
Instead, according to several people who were present, Millepied said nothing concrete either about converting to Judaism or if he considers himself Jewish. “He said he has a Jewish family,” said one source who attended the performance.
Millepied was recently appointed director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet and agreed to return to Los Angeles from France for this special performance; Millepied’s first public appearance with L.A. Dance Project since their Disney Hall debut last fall. In conjunction with AJU’s Geller Festival of the Arts, the performance was promoted within a Jewish context: BodyTraffic performed the piece "Transfigured Night" by Israeli choreographers Roni Haver and Guy Weizman which was set to an Arnold Schoenberg score that was suppressed during the Holocaust.
But Millepied remained mum on his experience of Judaism.
Interesting how communal identity can be such a private matter.