Dudamel, Deitch…Millepied? A rock star dances onto the LA scene

Can a rock star of dance put LA on the map in an art  form where it’s long fallen short?

Moviegoers know Benjamin Millepied from The Black Swan. Celebrity gazers know him as the handsome husband of red-hot Natalie Portman (and father of their child). Dance aficionados know the French-born Millepied as a former principal dancer of the NYC Ballet.

And while most of that third circle is too polite to say it publicly, there’s apparently some frustration over how Millepied has waltzed into town, set up shop with a new troupe that’s debuting this weekend at the premiere venue of the Disney Concert Hall, and cast nary an Angeleno. And because the dance world is so small and interconnected here in LA, it’s hard to get people to talk openly and on the record about it.

Now, jealousy is an inevitable if not sad part of the arts, isn’t it? The person who’s more famous than you, who has better access and funding, who generates the buzz (and as we know, PR begets more PR) typically finds him or herself in the cross-hairs.

But to me, the more interesting conversation is this: Is Millepied the next Dudamel, an import superstar who’ll direct international attention to our fair city by sexing up his art form?

Is he the next Deitch, a glitzy, controversial outsider who upends the old, established guard by doing things a new way?

Is art  (of any sort) for the people or for the elite creators and intelligentsia privileged enough to work in it?

Should LA rely on entrenched locals to fortify its art scene or should it embrace any and all who come here (with their Hollywood wives, or not) who want to contribute?

Maybe we’ll get lucky and Millepied’s LA Dance Project will provide the perfect fusion of celebrity-that-sells-tickets and serious talent that will further solidify Los Angeles as a force to be reckoned with in the arts. Even if it’s just a one-off, I’m looking forward to the show this weekend. I walk around Disney Concert Hall’s beautiful park almost every day; any chance to get inside it is a treat.