By Alex Marshall
20 February 2020
Some of the dance world’s biggest names threatened to withdraw work from the repertoire of the Lyon Opera Ballet — a major French company — this week unless it reinstated its former artistic director.
“This is with a heavy heart,” they wrote in an open letter published in Libération, a major newspaper in France. But, they added, they saw “no other solutions.”
Yorgos Loukos, the Lyon company’s artistic director since 1991, was fired this month after a French court found him guilty of discriminating against a dancer. Mr. Loukos had refused to give the dancer a contract when she returned from maternity leave.
The Lyon Opera Ballet’s decision to fire him was “incomprehensible and arbitrary,” said the letter, which called on the French government to intervene.
The letter — in which stars appeared to hold a company to ransom — contained the signatures of around 100 people, including Benjamin Millepied, William Forsythe, and the European choreographers Jiri Kylian and Mats Ek. Sylvie Guillem, the French ballet star who retired in 2015, was listed as a signatory, as was the actress Isabelle Huppert.
But when The New York Times contacted some of the letter’s signees for comment, several disavowed it.
“I was asked to sign, but declined, because the letter spoke to internal matters of the theater of which I have no direct experience or knowledge, and I do not agree with the coercive tactics,” Mr. Forsythe said in an email.
Read the full article in the New York Times.