Natalie Portman's husband Benjamin Millepied 'to quit' Paris ballet: Reports

Benjamin Millepied during a news conference in February 2015.
Benjamin Millepied during a news conference in February 2015.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (AFP) - Star choreographer Benjamin Millepied is on the point of quitting the Paris Opera Ballet which he had threatened to radically shake up, according to reports on Wednesday.

Millepied - who is married to Hollywood star Natalie Portman - took over France's most prestigious ballet company little more than a year ago, bringing a dash of glamour to one of the capital's most venerable institutions.

He had been due to unveil his new season next week, but it was clear that all was not well after he lambasted the ballet's hierarchical structure in a French television documentary.

The ballet refused to comment on the reports of his departure which were published on the website of Paris Match magazine, but confirmed that a press conference has been called for Thursday.

"Stephane Lissner (the director of the opera) has important things to say," a spokeswoman for the ballet told AFP, who refused to deny Millepied's imminent departure.

His fairytale return to France in 2014 came after a string of international successes after he founded the acclaimed LA Dance Project and married Portman, whom he met on the set of Black Swan.

She later won a best actress Oscar for her portrayal of a tortured ballerina in the film.

The dancer turned choreographer, who made his name at the New York City Ballet, did not hide his unhappiness with the way the Paris ballet was run in a behind-the-scenes documentary aired on the Canal+ channel just before Christmas.

He claimed that the ballet was hidebound, too hierarchical and obsessed with internal competition.

Nor was it as "excellent" as it claimed to be, he said, and performances sometimes looked like "wallpaper... and were deadly boring".

"Is this no fun?" he cried at one point, appealing to his dancers to "let themselves go" in the classical ballet as they did in contemporary dance pieces.

For all the ballet's faults, he said its troupe could be "perhaps the best modern dance group in the world".

Israel-born Portman moved to Paris to be with her husband and their four-year-old son, Aleph. Her first film as a director, A Tale Of Love And Darkness debuted at last year's Cannes film festival.

But she has been reported keen to relaunch her career in Hollywood and has signed up to play Jackie Kennedy in a biopic of the late US first lady.