Ph. Colette Mason/Roger-Viollet
The original source, Mediapart, is only available to subscribers now so here is another source’s rehash of the original article.
It’s clear the Paris Opera is under state pressure to increase its corporate sponsorship and overlooking Laurent Hilaire and Manuel Legris is a disgrace in itself. I’m sure my opinion will annoy Benjamin Millepied’s fans but I can’t say I would describe exploiting somebody and their family as OK either. However I’m not aware it is legally or morally acceptable to push people out of their jobs in France (according to the above and Mediapart, Laurent Hilaire was dismissed with a severment payment of 200k), unlike the US, where in some states a director can fire somebody because they would like a new smile to greet them in the mornings. This is why Benjamin Millepied and Stephane Lissner aren’t good for Paris: they’re corrupt bullies, and everything the Paris Opera didn’t need more of.
Laurent Hilaire is one of ballet’s greatest artists and a rarity amongst coaches. He understands what few do, dancers learn in different ways, and just because paying attention to details and using touch-based learning works for one, doesn’t mean it works for all, e.g. some prefer metaphors and analogies. Along with his knowledge, contacts and experience, that makes him an asset. He’s also a Total Pro at diplomatic professionalism (you would have to be working with Brigitte Lefevre and the Paris Opera’s maze of directors) who has even said in an interview he has to be careful not to step on anyone’s toes. However Brigitte Lefevre describes him as a collaborator and consequently only his fans are saying, “There’s no evidence he’s institionalised, au contraire,” or “If the Paris Opera’s managers can turn on dancers, they can turn on other managers.”
Being a scapegoat sadly makes it difficult to win a case for unfair dismissal alone so personally, I find the reaction or lack thereof from the dancers more than disappointing, particularly as a fan. They should respect the public, that is, both the tax payer and their audience, enough to care about how the money we, the public, provide is spent by the clowns at the top. They should also see the change of directors as a chance to secure themselves some positive change. Is Laurent Hilaire’s dismissal a positive change? Far from it.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by the lack of respect the dancers have for the public though. They clearly aren’t the family they try to have us believe they are. I wouldn’t dump my family just because somebody shiny comes along, I’d be defending Laurent Hilaire and demanding he’s reinstated immediately. After all, the French are renowned for their strikes, no? Since the Paris Opera loses an awful lot of money through walkouts and strikes, this seems like the natural course of action to take. Alas, nothing.
Here’s hoping the wider ballet world reaches out to Laurent Hilaire so he can be reminded, actually not every dancer out there will stab you in the back. I really hope, should he choose to direct in the future, he finds somewhere less toxic than the Paris Opera. Personally I’d like to see him try a little theatre. Sylvie Guillem said she wanted to try it as well, and Laurent Hilaire wasn’t only widely regarded as the finest dansuer noble of his generation, but the finest male dancer-actor too.
Notre Dame de Paris
Isabelle Guerin, Nicolas Le Riche, Laurent Hilaire, Manuel Legris
Mathilde Froustey in Tomasson’s Nutcracker
Plusieurs nouvelles concernant la direction du Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris sont tombées la semaine dernière, l’une attendue, l’autre plus surprenante. Départ de Laurent Hilaire Tout d’abord, l’Opéra a annoncé le départ de Laurent Hilaire de ses fonctions de Maître…
At first I was shocked but when I thought about it it really shouldnt come as a surprise… I bet he was rooting for a job as Artistic Director (along with the rest of the world) but the administration favoured Benjamin Millepied (I still can’t quite believe they chose HIM over Hilaire but what you gon’ do ‘bout it, the damage is already done….). Must be embarrasing to work for someone who has never had any affiliations with ONP AND is 20 years your junior. What a great loss, Hilaire as maître de ballet is (was?) the best thing that has happened to POB since Nureyev got appointed as AD. Best of luck to him (I’m sure the contracts for a job as AD somewhere else are already flowing in)! Oh and good luck to Voyer as new head maîtresse de ballet and Dupont as the newest maîtresse de ballet too, I don’t think anyone would doubt their capabilities to pass on the French tradition to the upcoming generations.
Sadly Le Great Laurent Hilaire was forced out (basically, dismissed and paid 200k severment). The POB didn’t need more bullying directors but unfortunately, they’ve got two incoming ones starting at the end of the season. I hope Laurent Hilaire finds a company with a nicer atmosphere (I’m not inclined to congratulate Dupont or Vayer after finding out) than Paris. He deserves better than this.
I adore how Diana has so much respect for the POB and seems to enjoy it so much when she goes to Paris. :)
Pictured: Evan McKie, Brigitte Lefèvre, Diana Vishneva and Laurent Hilaire. Via Diana’s FB page.
Shame the frankly corrupt incoming directors (Millepied, Lissner) just forced out the legendary Laurent Hilaire for no justifiable reason whatsoever. I’m sickened by the news, and somewhat bewildered by the lack of loyalty the dancers seem to have for their own. Laurent Hilaire is no Brigitte Lefevre 2.0.
Wishing Laurent Hilaire all the best for whatever he does next. He’s better than Paris, always has been.
Laurent Hilaire and Svetlana Zakharova
Ph. Marc Haegeman
So there is a picture of them dancing together! ♡♡♡
I was always curious about this partnership after reading her interview saying that the only partner that made her cry for love is him.
Nicolas Le Riche by Pascal Elliott