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L.A. Dance Project lands three-year residency in Arles, France

L.A. Dance Project lands three-year residency in Arles, France
Choreographer Benjamin Millepied directing a L.A. Dance Project rehearsal, at the Los Angeles Theater Center, in 2012. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

How will Benjamin Millepied spend his time after he leaves the Paris Opera Ballet in July? The popular dancer-choreographer, who abruptly announced his resignation from the storied company earlier this year, won't be taking much time off.

L.A. Dance Project, the artist collective that he co-founded in 2012, has landed a three-year residency in Arles, France, in partnership with the LUMA Foundation, the European nonprofit that supports arts and cultural initiatives.

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The partnership will include a series of performances at the foundation's campus complex, known as the Parc des Ateliers, starting July 7. The initial series will include Millepied's "Hearts & Arrows," set to the music of Philip Glass, as well as Justin Peck's "Helix," set to music by Esa-Pekka Salonen, and a group of Merce Cunningham works set to music by John Cage.

L.A. Dance Project will spend five nonconsecutive weeks a year in Arles, where the company will be able to work, create and produce, a spokesman for the LUMA Foundation said by email.

The foundation is the brainchild of Maja Hoffmann, the cultural philanthropist and heiress of a prominent Swiss pharmaceutical fortune.

Architect Frank Gehry is designing a building for the foundation that is set to open officially in 2018.

Hoffmann and Millepied have known each other for nearly 10 years, according to the foundation. The two collaborated on a dance piece inspired by a work by visual artist Barbara Kruger from Hoffmann's collection.

Millepied said in a prepared statement that L.A. Dance Project now has "a base in Europe that will allow us to work, brainstorm and interact with other guest artists and events that are produced by the Foundation."

In February, Millepied surprised the dance world when he announced that he would step down as the director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet after having served just a little more than one year at the helm.

At the time, Millepied said that his resignation was for "personal reasons only." He said the consuming nature of his job at the Paris Opera was preventing him from what he loved most — "artistic creation and expression."

Millepied, 39, hails from France but has spent much of his career in the United States. He is a former dancer with the New York City Ballet, where he rose to the rank of principal.

Prior to taking the job at the Paris Opera in 2014, Millepied resided in L.A. with his wife, actress Natalie Portman, whom he met while working on the movie "Black Swan."

L.A. Dance Project creates works of modern and contemporary dance, performed at local venues and cities around the world.

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