Choreographer and artistic director of the Ballet Preljocaj, National Choreographic Centre, Angelin Preljocaj has been living and working in Aix-en-Provence since 1996.
Born in 1957 in Paris region, he began his career by studying classical dance before turning to contemporary dance with Karin Waehner at the Schola Cantorum.
After studying with Merce Cunningham in New York (1980), he joined the Quentin Rouillier Company in Caen and then worked at the national contemporary dance Center of Angers, at that time directed by Viola Farber.
In 1982, he was hired by Dominique Bagouet as a dancer for his company in Montpellier. Angelin Preljocaj made his debut as a choreographer by creating Aventures Coloniales with Michel Kelemenis, a successful duet presented at the Montpellier Festival in July, 1984, and restaged in September of the same year for the inauguration of the Théâtre Contemporain de la Danse.
In December 1984, Angelin Preljocaj decided to venture out on his own and presented Marché noir at the Concours de Bagnolet, obtaining the Ministry of Culture award.
This same year, Angelin Preljocaj obtained the Villa Medicis hors les Murs award and left for Japan to study Noh. Upon returning he created Hallali Romée for the Festival d’Avignon, the Biennale nationale de danse du Val-de-Marne and the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, followed by Liqueurs de chair while in residency at the CNDC (National Choreographic Dance Center) in Angers, a piece co-produced by the Théâtre de la Ville (1988). For the Biennale nationale de danse du Val-de-Marne, he presented his vision of Stravinsky’s Noces and the duet Un trait d’union (1989).
In 1990, he created Amer America for the Biennale de la dance in Lyon, and then a futuristic comic book version of Prokofiev’s Roméo et Juliette, with the participation of Enki Bilal, for the Lyon Opera Ballet (1990). His residency at the Théâtre National de la Danse et de l’image (TNDI) in Châteauvallon led to the creation, in 1992, of La Peau du Monde. This same year, he received the Grand Prix National de la Danse from the Ministry of Culture. He was invited with his company to the Palais Garnier to present a tribute to the Ballets Russes (1993), composed of reinterpretations of Parade, the Spectre de la rose and Noces.
The following year, Brigitte Lefèvre invited him to create Le Parc for the Paris Opera Ballet, with selections chosen from Mozart. In 1995, he created Petit essai sur le temps qui passe, followed by L’Anoure (based on the original libretto by Pascal Quignard) and Annonciation. The same year, he created Firebird for the Munich Ballet. He received the “Benoit de la Danse” award for Le Parc at the Bolshoi in Moscow.
In 1996, his company settled in Aix-en-Provence where he restaged Roméo et Juliette. This same year, several ballets staged a number of his pieces in their repertoires: The Monte-Carlo Ballet (Le Spectre de la rose), the Tuscany Ballet in Italy (Liqueurs de chair) the Paris Opera Ballet (Annonciation).
1997 was a double hit in New York: the company presented Annonciation, Le Spectre de la rose and Noces at the Joyce Theatre and Angelin Preljocaj was invited by Peter Martins, director of the New York City Ballet, to create a ballet for his dancers for the Diamond Project: La Stravaganza. He received the Bessie Award for Annonciation and the Victoires de la Musique award for Roméo et Juliette.
That same year, while creating Paysage après la bataille for his own company at the Festival d’Avignon, the Ballet of Nancy restaged Larmes blanches and the Helsinki Ballet Le Spectre de la rose.
In 1998, already Officier des Arts et des Lettres, Angelin was named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. This same year, he restaged Le Parc for The Deutsche Oper Berlin and created Casanova for the Paris Opera. He presented Centaures, adaptation of a duo from La Peau du Monde, at the Maison des Arts de Créteil for the Biennale nationale de danse du Val-de-Marne. Le Spectre de la rose was restaged by the Municipal Ballet of Rio de Janeiro.
In 1999, he created Personne n’épouse les méduses at the Festival d’Avignon and received the Grand prix International de Vidéodanse for Le Parc. The Ballet Gulbenkian of Lisbon and the Finnish National Ballet restaged Noces.
In 2000, during the reign of virtual and synthesed imagery and the implosion of dance, he created Portraits in corpore, a choreographic installation which establishes a dialogue between the bodies of the dancers and their image. He pursued this approach in 2001 with his creations MC/14-22 “Ceci est mon corps“ and Helikopter.
In May 2001, he created The Rite of Spring a Franco-German co-production joining the dancers of the Ballet Preljocaj with those of the Berlin Staatsoper, with Daniel Barenboïm directing Igor Stravinsky’s famous score.
In 2002, Annonciation was restaged by La Scala in Milan and Noces by the ABC Dance Company of St Pölten in Austria.
In 2003, he directed the film Annonciation, inspired by the piece created in 1995, and created Near Life Experience with the music of the French electronic band Air.
In 2004, he created Empty moves (Part I) for the Biennale nationale de danse du Val-de-Marne and, the same year, “N” , in collaboration with Kurt Hentschläger and Ulf Langheinrich of the group Granular Synthesis, presented at the Festival Perspectives of Saarebrücken, at the Theatre de l’Olivier in Istres and at the Festival Montpellier Danse.
This same year, the Ballet of Lorraine performed La Stravaganza, the Nederlands Dans Theater Noces, the Sao Paulo Balé de Cidade Liqueurs de chair and the Ballet d’Ankara Le Spectre de la rose.
In November 2004, he restaged MC 14/22 and created Le Songe de Médée for the Paris Opera Ballet.
In 2005, he created Les 4 saisons…… in collaboration with Fabrice Hyber
The Ballet of La Scala in Milan restaged La Stravaganza.
In 2006, Noces, a major work from his repertoire and created in 1989 was restaged, and presented as the second part of a programme alongside Empty moves (part I), a quartet performed to a sound creation by John Cage. This same year he also created the choreography for the opera Grendel by Elliot Goldenthal, staged by Julie Taymor, for the Los Angeles Opera. In May 2006 he was named Officier dans l’ordre du Mérite.
In October 2006, his company settled into its new home, designed by the architect Rudy Ricciotti in Aix-en-Provence. The Pavillon Noir is the first production centre built for dance, where artists are able to go through the entire creative process, from workshops and rehearsals to staging and performance. The same year, he created Fire Sketch as a tribute to Paul Cézanne.
In 2007, he created Eldorado (Sonntags Abschied) set up to a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen. He pursues at the same time his work on the composition by John Cage and created Empty moves (parts I &II) for the Festival Montpellier Danse. This same year, the Ballet of La Scala in Milan restaged Le Parc, the Paris Opera Ballet performed Le Songe de Médée. The Rite of Spring is performed by the Ballet of Malmö. The same year, he created a Haka for the Rugby World Cup.
In 2008, Angelin Preljocaj created Snow White, a contemporary and romantic ballet for 26 dancers, and set up to a symphony by Gustav Malher. Jean Paul Gaultier maked the costumes and Thierry Leproust the set design. Snow White was premiered in September 2008 at the Biennale de la danse of Lyon.
At the same time, Angelin Preljocaj took part in the project of the artist David Michalek, Slow Dancing. La Stravaganza is performed by the Ballet of Basel and Annonciation by the Cedar Lake – New-York.
In 2009, he created Le Funambule from the text of Jean Genet. He also received the « Globe de Cristal » for Snow White from which he produced the film, released on DVD by MK2 in January 2010. The Paris Opera Ballet restages Le Parc and MC 14/22 (Ceci est mon corps), the New York City Ballet, La Stravaganza, and finally the Staatsballet of Berlin, Snow White.
In March 2010, Brigitte Lefèvre invited him to create Siddharta with the Paris Opera Ballet. The Bordeaux Opera restages Annonciation and the Royal Swedish Ballet of Stockholm restages Noces.
In September 2010, he created And then, one thousand years of peace with dancers from the Bolshoi Theatre and Ballet Preljocaj. A major cooperation project within the France-Russia year. The première took place in Moscow.
In 2011, he signed, for Air France, the commercial L’Envol based on a duo of Le Parc, with the New York City Ballet French dancer, Benjamin Millepied, and Virginie Caussin, Ballet Preljocaj dancer.
In January 2012, commissioned by “Suresnes Cités danse” he created Royaume Uni, for 4 hip hop dancers, on the occasion of the festival 20th anniversary.
The same year, he created Ce que j’appelle oubli (What I call oblivion), a piece for 6 dancers and 1 actor, at the Biennale de la danse de Lyon, based on the text by Laurent Mauvignier.
He received the “Herald Angel Award” for Helikopter, Eldorado (Sonntags Abschied) and And then, one thousand years of peace programmed by Edinburgh International Festival.
Le Spectre de la Rose enters the Compania Nacional de Danza’s repertoire (Madrid, Spain), Romeo and Juliet in the Ballet de Bâle’s (Switzerland) and La Stravaganza in the Ballet du Capitole’s (Toulouse, France).
In April 2013, he created The Nights, freely inspired from The Thousand and One Nights, at Grand Théâtre de Provence within Marseille-Provence 2013, European Capital of Culture. He worked with Azzedine Alaïa for the costumes, Natacha Atlas and Samy Bishai for the music and Constance Guisset for the stage design.
In September 2013, sixteen years after creating La Stravaganza, Angelin Preljocaj is once again invited by Peter Martins, artistic director of the New York City Ballet. He creates Spectral Evidence for the American company.
In 2014, he pursues his exploration of John Cage’s sound creation, Empty words, initiated ten years earlier. In June 2014, Empty moves (parts I, II & III) is presented for the opening of the Montpellier Danse festival.
He received the Samuel H. Scripps/ American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement.
In 2015, he brought dancers and comedians together on stage, Return to Berratham sets in motion the words of the author Laurent Mauvignier, presented at the Cour d’honneur of the Popes Palace.
In 2016, Angelin Preljocaj took a direction so far unexplored in his work, that of the traditional tales of Asia, and revealed the ‘supernatural’ power of the art of painting. La Fresque was presented at the Grand Théâtre de Provence in September 2016, with the artistic collaboration of Nicolas Godin for the music, Azzedine Alaïa for the costumes, Constance Guisset for the set design and videos and Éric Soyer for the lighting.
Made with Valérie Müller, the first full-length feature film by Angelin Preljocaj, Polina, danser sa vie, adapted from the graphic novel by Bastien Vivès, came out in cinemas on November 2016.
In 2017, he created Still Life, a piece for 6 dancers inspired by the “Vanities” in 17th century painting.
In 2018, he created Gravity around the notions of weight, speed and space that have been part of his research since the beginning. The same year, commissioned by the Diaghilev Festival in St. Petersburg, he created Ghost, a short piece in homage to Marius Petipa.
In 2019, at the invitation of La Scala in Milan, he created Winterreise for the dancers of La Scala, inspired by the romanticism of Franz Schubert’s work. The piece will be restaged with the dancers of the Ballet Preljocaj in July 2019 at the Montpellier Dance Festival, during which he will also present Soul Kitchen, a creation with inmates of the Baumettes prison in Marseille, the result of four months of workshops conducted within the prison with five female volunteers. The documentary Danser sa peine, directed by Valérie Müller, will be released in 2019. It offers an intimate look at this creation in a prison environment. The film was produced by Elephant, broadcast on France Télévisions and presented in documentary festivals. It won the first Fipadoc prize in 2020.
In April 2019, Angelin Preljocaj was appointed to the Academy of Fine Arts in the new « choreography » section.
After Swan Lake in 2020 and Deleuze / Hendrix in 2021, he will choreograph and direct Lully’s opera Atys for the Grand Théâtre de Genève in 2022. At the same time, he created a short choreography for the Danse Europe! application, a participatory project open to all. For Dior, he created the choreography and the film Nuit romaine with the dancers of the Rome Opera Ballet. He also participated in the television series Irma Vep by Olivier Assayas, as an actor and choreographer.
In 2022, he created Mythologies with original music by ex-Daft Punk Thomas Bangalter at the Opéra National de Bordeaux.
In February 2023, he created Birthday Party for senior performers at the Théâtre National de Chaillot on a commission from Aterballetto.