Black Swan Choreographer Benjamin Millepied Launches App to Dance at Home: 'No Reason to Be Daunted'
"I've been working at developing a new model for a performing arts organization basically since 2012," Benjamin Millepied tells PEOPLE
Benjamin Millepied, the famed dancer and choreographer behind the movie Black Swan (he's husband to star Natalie Portman), has launched a digital app that couldn't come at a better time.
Millepied, who serves as the Artistic Director of L.A. Dance Project (LADP), is behind LADP Digital, the first digital platform for a global dance company to provide daily workouts and other exciting content for users to use from the comfort of their own homes.
The app, which is now available to download, was being worked on long before the pandemic forced millions to explore new and creative ways to workout remotely, Millepied, 43, tells PEOPLE.
"We had it in the pipeline because we would never have been able to pull it off as quickly as we did," he says. "I've been working at developing a new model for a performing arts organization basically since 2012."
After resigning from his role as the director of the Paris Opera Ballet in 2016, Millepied says he returned to Los Angeles "and really thought it's not what I want to do in my life is run one of these big organizations."
"I want to build something that's resilient to this moment in time and also that allows for artistic risks and true integrity," he recalls thinking. "And that is going to face some of the issues like the social change that was so needed, like that actually a dance company should be connected to its community."
"The way theaters were built and where they're built are in very like white places, affluent places — everything has become so expensive," he says. "These companies have become so expensive to run that ticket prices are high. And they're uninviting to some extent."
To reach a wider and more diverse population, Millepied opted to go digital.
"I was already thinking this way and I knew that digital, there was a whole world where you can bring what you're doing to a larger audience."
The resulting app features content tailored to all levels of dancers: from current ones to total beginners eager to sweat. Classes include a ballet program offering barre and pointe masterclasses, contemporary dance, stretch, cardio, improvisation, and period dance moves. There are also guest classes with famed choreographer/dancer Madeline Hollander and Paris Opera Ballet's Marie-Agnes Gillot. Virtual one-on-one classes are also offered on the app for those wanting the personal touch.
"If you've never danced, but you're not daunted by fitness, then there's no reason you should be daunted by this," says Millepied.
The app is available on Apple and Android devices, as well as through the LADP website, with a 7-day free trial, and monthly membership for $9.99, or annually for $69.99.