Manuel Legris: French ballet dancer (1964-) | Biography
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Manuel Legris
French ballet dancer

Manuel Legris

Manuel Legris
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro French ballet dancer
Is Dancer Choreographer
From France
Field Dancing
Gender male
Birth 10 October 1964, Paris
Age 59 years
Star sign Libra
The details (from wikipedia)


Manuel Legris is a French ballet dancer, born in Paris on October 10, 1964. He was a star dancer of the Paris Opera Ballet for 23 years. Since September 1, 2010, he has directed the Vienna State Ballet.


Career as a dancer

He started ballet lessons at the age of 8 under a local ballet teacher, Yvonne Guba. In 1976 at age 11, he started with the Paris Opera Ballet School and joined the Corps de Ballet at 16 years old in 1980. In 1981 he became "Coryphee", and was then promoted to "Sujet" in 1982. Exceptionally, Manuel Legris was appointed to the title "Etoile" on 11 July 1986, at age 21, by the Stage Director Rudolf Nureyev, bypassing the rank of "Premier Danseur." On that day, the company performed Raymonda, choreographed by Nureyev, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and Legris danced the leading role of Jean de Brienne. At the end of the performance, he was named the principal dancer on the stage.

The succession of roles allowed him to become the new star developing a "large repertoire", revealing the many facets of his extensive gifts. In addition to his intrinsic qualities of flawless technique and expressive richness, Manuel Legris established himself as an outstanding partner, a complete dancer equally at home with the classical and the contemporary repertoires. Thus, William Forsythe, John Neumeier, Jiri Kylian and Jerome Robbins alike, the most renowned choreographers continued to engage him: Manuel Legris participated in most entries to the repertoire or the creations of the Paris Opera.

At the same time, the reputation of the dancer crossed the borders very quickly. Manuel Legris was invited by the most prestigious companies, such as the Royal Ballet in London, the New York City Ballet, the Cuban National Ballet, the Tokyo Ballet, the Ballets of Monte-Carlo, Stuttgart and Hamburg where John Neumeier created especially for him Spring and Fall and A Cinderella Story.

As the permanent guest dancer, Manuel Legris appeared on all the prestigious stages of the world, La Scala in Milan, the Met in New York, the Vienna State Opera Ballet, the Bolshoi in Moscow, and most recently he performed several times at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

Manuel Legris soon established himself as a sought-after partner, and in addition to the etoiles of the Paris Opera, he performed with the greatest dancers of the world, including Evelyn Hart, Dominique Khalfoun, Alessandra Ferri, Lorna Feijoo and Diana Vishneva.

In addition, Manuel Legris traveled the world with his fellow dancers, "Manuel Legris et ses Étoiles." This concept was born in 1996 with the collaboration of Manuel Legris and Monique Loudières. There wishes were to allow young dancers to approach the solo roles still inaccessible for them at the Opera, and to enable them to work with leading choreographers forcing them to perform against the young artists.

The group was regularly invited to Japan. In January 2000, during a tour in Tokyo, Kishin Shinoyama, a successful Japanese photographer, published a photo book Manuel Legris A L'Opera de Paris, a book dedicated to him.

In 2003, Manuel Legris added two major works to his repertoire: Variations on Carmen by Roland Petit and Phrases of Quartet by Maurice Béjart. That same year, Maurice Béjart staged again The Song of a Wayfarer for him and Laurent Hilaire, giving them the exclusive performance.

In February 2004, Jiri Kylian created a Pas de Deux Il faut qu'une porte... at the Paris Opera where Manuel Legris danced with Aurélie Dupont. During the summer, he made another triumphant tour in Japan with his group, to which he added "special guests" Monique Loudières and Laurent Hilaire. Finally, in December he took part in the new work of Trisha Brown O zlozony / O composite, along with Aurélie Dupont and Nicolas Le Riche.

In December 2005, the Stuttgart Ballet offered him the title role in Onegin where he danced with Maria Eichwald and the company during a tour of Japan and in January 2006 in Stuttgart.

On November 19, 2007, he danced as the partner of Dorothée Gilbert, his favorite pupil of the dance school, in the Nutcracker at the Opera de Paris, which was performed without any costumes or set (due to strikes by staff), after which she was named Etoile.

He made his official farewell from the stage of the Opera Garnier on May 15, 2009, with the principal role of Onegin (for this exceptional performance, he requested the traditional Défilé of students and dancers in the Opera). Among the partners, Clairemarie Osta, Mathias Heymann and Myriam Ould-Braham were found on stage while he was applauded from the hall by numerous Etoiles of the House, former ballet masters such as Claude Bessy and Pierre Lacotte, and the Culture and Communication Minister Christine Albanel. He received a standing ovation from the entire audience for nearly half an hour. On this occasion he was awarded the insignia of "Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres"

After official farewell

Manuel Legris continued to dance for a few months, especially abroad, before taking the reins of the Vienna State Ballet in September 2010. He brought to the company a number of ballets, including – for the 2010/2011 season – Rudolf Nureyev's Don Quixote, Onegin, and a Triple Bill devoted to Jerome Robbins already performed in Paris.

Awards and distinctions

  • 1984 : Gold Medal of the International Dance Competition in Osaka with Elisabeth Maurin
  • 1985 : Prix Carpeaux Circle
  • 1988 : Nijinsky Award
  • 1993 : Knight of Arts and of Letters
  • 1998 : Prix Benois de la Danse
  • 1998 : Officer of Arts and of Letters
  • 2000 : Nijinsky Award for the second time
  • 2002 : Knight of the Order of Merit
  • 2006 : Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honour


  • Romeo and Juliet (Rudolf Nureyev)
  • Le Spectre de la Rose (Michel Fokine)
  • Notre-Dame de Paris (Roland Petit)
  • L'Arlesienne (Roland Petit)
  • The Sleeping Beauty (Rudolf Nureyev)
  • Don Quixote (Rudolf Nureyev)
  • Sylvia (John Neumeier)
  • "Proust, ou les intermittences du coeur" (Roland Petit)


  • Giselle, Paquita (classic version)
  • Rhapsody, Meditation (pas de deux) (Sir Frederick Ashton)
  • Agon, Tchaikovsky - Pas de deux, Le Palais de Cristal, Themes and Variations, The Four Temperaments, Divertimento No. 15, The Prodigal Son, Violin Concerto, Who cares?, Stars and Stripes, Sonatine, Jewels (George Balanchine)
  • Coppélia (Patrice Bart)
  • Arepo, The Contest, The Song of a Wayfarer, Phrases Quartet (Maurice Béjart)
  • Swan Lake (Vladimir Bourmeister)
  • Napoli (August Bournonville)
  • O złożony / O composite (Trisha Brown)
  • Les Indomptés (Claude Brumachon)
  • Onegin (John Cranko)
  • Blues du poisson rouge (Pierre Darde)
  • Giselle (Mats Ek)
  • In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Wound-Work (William Forsythe)
  • Le Spectre de la Rose (Michel Fokine)
  • Bacchanale (Andy Degroat)
  • Tantz-Schul, Sinfonietta, Clouds, Sweet Lies, Bella Figura, Il faut qu'une porte... (Jiri Kylian)
  • Giselle, La Sylphide, Paquita (Pierre Lacotte)
  • Études (Harald Lander)
  • The Wayward Daughter (Joseph Lazzini)
  • Suite en blanc, Les Mirages, Romeo and Juliet pas de deux (Lifar)
  • The Story of Manon, Romeo and Juliet (Sir Kenneth MacMillan)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream, Vaslaw, Magnificat, The Nutcracker, Sylvia, Spring and Fall, A Cinderella Story (John Neumeier).
  • Don Quixote, Raymonda, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, La Bayadere (Rudolf Nureyev)
  • Notre-Dame de Paris, L'Arlesienne, Carmen, Les Intermittences du coeur, Cheek to Cheek, Variations from Carmen (Roland Petit)
  • Le Park (Angelin Preljocaj)
  • Dances at a Gathering, In The Night, The Four Seasons, A Suite of Dances, Other Dances (Jerome Robbins).
  • Rules of The Game (Twyla Tharp)
  • Continuo, Lilac Garden, The Leaves Are Fading (Antony Tudor)
  • Four Last Songs (Rudi van Dantzig)
  • Angel, Alles Walz (Renato Zanella)
  • Proust ou les intermittences du coeur (Roland Petit)

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