“Prix de Lausanne was a turning point in my artistic and professional life – it will always be the key moment of my career. It is an incomparable experience filled with emotions, discoveries along with exceptional encounters. Still today, I thank the Prix for giving me this opportunity.
It is truly an honour for me to be this year’s President of the Jury and to continue to pass on, along with my colleagues, this unique tradition. A tradition that gives a chance to young artists to have access to renown schools giving them joy in the present and hope for a future, bright career.”
Director of the Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala
Prize Winner, Prix de Lausanne 1977
President of the Jury 2020
Born in Nice, he trained and graduated from the city’s Music and Dance Conservatoire. In 1977, he was a Prize Winner of the Prix de Lausanne, entitling him to enter the Paris Opera Ballet School. In 1978, he joined the Paris Opera Ballet under the direction of Violette Verdy and later of Rosella Hightower. He was appointed soloist in 1981, when Rudolf Nureyev was artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet. With the company, he danced the most important roles in the classical and contemporary repertoire, working with several guest choreographers such as Maurice Béjart, John Neumeier, Kenneth MacMillan, Alwin Nikolais, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, Glen Tetley and Roland Petit.
In 1985, he joined as Leading Dancer during the founding year of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo under the direction of Pierre Lacotte and Ghislaine Thesmar. Just a few months after, in the presence of HRH Princess Caroline of Monaco, he was awarded the title Étoile. Until 1993, he has interpreted all the most important roles in the classical, neoclassical and contemporary repertoire with the company. He has also starred in creations dedicated to him by choreographers like Uwe Scholz, Jean-Christophe Maillot, John Neumeier, and Roland Petit.
In 1986, he received the Leonide Massine Prize, and in 1992, Prince Ranieri of Monaco awarded him with the title of Knight of the Order of Cultural Merits.
In 1993, he became Principal dancer of the Hamburg Ballet directed by the choreographer John Neumeier, where he ended his brilliant career as a dancer.
In 1996, he began a new professional experience at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino where, until 1998, he held the position of Maître de Ballet and assistant choreographer of the MaggioDanza troupe, for which he also created the choreography for Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo directed by Luca Ronconi, as well as the choreography of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi, directed by Mariani. He subsequently became Maître de Ballet at Zürcher Ballett directed by Heinz Spoerli. In 2000, he was appointed Artistic Director of MaggioDanza at Teatro Comunale Fiorentino. From September of that same year, he became principal Maître de Ballet of the Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
In 2002, he was appointed Director of the Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala – a position he held until 2007. During his management, the ballet repertoire of the company was expanded and renewed with new productions such as Swan Lake by Vladimir Bourmeister, La Dame aux Camélias by John Neumeier, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by George Balanchine, The Cage by Jerome Robbins, Symphony of Psalms and Petite Mort by Jiří Kylián, Marguerite and Armand by Frederick Ashton, Annonciation and La Stravaganza by Angelin Preljocaj, and Polyphonia by Christopher Wheeldon. Not to mention works from some of the most renowned Italian choreographers such as Mauro Bigonzetti, Fabrizio Monteverde and Jacopo Godani, in addition to his close collaboration with the great choreographers Maurice Béjart and Roland Petit. During his tenure, the Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala performed in some of the greatest stages of the world on numerous international tours. Since 2003, he has been Director of the Dance Department of Teatro alla Scala Academy, and in October 2006, he also became Director of this historical school. During his directorship, he has given his pupils the opportunity to attend master classes with internationally renowned dancers and choreographers. Moreover, he has enriched the School’s repertoire with important choreographies such as Napoli by August Bournonville, Serenade, Who cares?, Theme and Variations, and Tarantella by George Balanchine, La Bella Addormentata by Mats Ek, Gaîté Parisienne suite and La luna by Maurice Béjart, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude by William Forsythe, Symphony in D, Evening Songs and Un ballo by Jiří Kylián, The Unsung by José Limón, Gymnopédie by Roland Petit, and Larmes Blanches and La Stravaganza by Angelin Preljocaj. He has also choreographed new versions of celebrated classical works for the School, such as The Nutcracker set to music by Tchaikovsky, and Cinderella to music by Prokofiev.
In July 2005, he was awarded the title Knight of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture.
Since October 2016, he has once again been entrusted the Direction of the Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala.