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Paris Opera Ballet names New Zealand dancer among two new stars


The Paris Opera Ballet named New Zealand’s Hannah O’Neill and France’s Marc Moreau as their two new star dancers on Thursday, the former a rare non-French dancer at the world’s oldest ballet company.

O’Neill, 30, is one of the few foreigners to achieve the highest “star” status in the world-renowned elite dance company, which has only in recent years opened up to non-French dancers.

Unlike London’s Royal Ballet or New York-based American Ballet Theatre, the 354-year-old Paris Opera Ballet’s 154 dancers are overwhelmingly local.

It wasn’t until 2012 that a dancer from Latin America – Argentina’s Ludmila Pagliero – became a star, and it wasn’t until 2021 that South Korea’s Sae Eun Park became the first Asian to be honored.

As is customary, O’Neill and Moreau’s promotions are announced without warning at the end of a performance — in this case, George Balanchine’s “Empire Ballet” at the Opera Garnier. group”.

O’Neill is the daughter of a New Zealand rugby player and her mother is a Japanese who loves ballet. Her teacher was Marilyn Rowe, who worked with Rudolf Nureyev, former director of the Paris Opera Ballet.

Before joining the Paris Opera at the age of 18, she won a number of international dance awards, including the Lausanne Grand Prix and the American Youth Grand Prix.

Moreau, 36, joined at 17 and became “principal dancer” in 2019.


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