Alexander Neef, artistic director of the Opéra National de Paris appointed José Martínez as the new ballet director. The 53-year-old former Étoile of the Paris Opera Ballet and later director of Spain’s Compañía Nacional de Danza will take his office on December 5, 2022, a few days after the premiere of his ballet “Le Corsaire” in Tallinn, Estonia.
Martínez succeeds Aurélie Dupont, who resigned on July 31, 2022. A student at the Rosella Hightower Center in Cannes and the dance school at the Opéra, José Carlos Martínez joined the Paris Opera Ballet in 1988 and was appointed Étoile in 1997 after a performance of La Sylphide. After retiring from the stage on July 15, 2011, he took over the leadership of the Compañía Nacional de Danza in Spain, giving it a new identity during his eight-year tenure in a tense economic and social context. Since 2019 he has been a freelance ballet master, teacher and choreographer.
Martínez will devote himself exclusively to his work as ballet director at the Opéra National.
There are only two exception of engagements in June 2023 in Bordeaux and in October 2023 in Stockholm, where he will bring his productions back to the stage.
Alexander Neef: “José Martínez’s brilliant career as a dancer, his experience as a director and choreographer and his sensitivity to mediation and inclusion will ensure the stability, prestige and excellent quality of the Opéra National Ballet.”
José Martínez: “I would like to thank Alexander Neef for his trust and I am very happy to be returning to the Paris Opera. I am aware of the enormous potential of the company and the challenges, and I want to put myself fully at their service. I will work to seek the best cohesion between the House staff and I would like to enlist the support of the dancers and teams of the Paris Opéra to make it a project together that will keep the company at the forefront of its art and make it an exemplary one ballet company in their artistic, human and social commitment.” Alexander Neef was supported in his election by a selection committee chaired by Bernard Stirn, Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Opéra National de Paris. Other members were Carolyn Carlson, Charles Jude and Angelin Preljocaj. A total of 23 applications were received, including nine women and 14 men.
Among the candidates were eleven French and twelve foreign nationals. The selection committee invited eight candidates and made its recommendations to the Director General of the Paris Opera, who in turn decided to invite four of them, two women and two men. Alexander Neef’s final choice fell on José Martínez.
is born in Cartagena, Spain in 1969, where he began dancing in his hometown before joining José Ferran’s class at Rosella Hightower’s school in Cannes. In 1987, Martínez won a scholarship at the Prix de Lausanne, which opened the doors for him to the Paris Opera School. He was engaged to the corps de ballet the following year and rose to sujet in 1990. In 1991 he won the gold medal at the International Dance Competition in Varna, in 1992 he received the Prix du Cercle Carpeaux. In the same year he was promoted to Premier Danseur. Mats Ek cast him as Hilarion in his Giselle. At the end of the performance of “La Sylphide” on May 31, 1997, Martínez was promoted to Étoile. He was an interpreter of shining princes as well as darker monarchs, so he danced Jean-Claude Gallotta’s “Nosferatu” or Yuri Grigorovich’s “Ivan the Terrible”.
He worked with great choreographers and created “Pas/parts by William Forsythe” (1999) and “Appartement” by Mats Ek (2000) at the Paris Opéra. Pina Bausch cast him as Orpheus in her dance opera “Orpheus and Eurydice” (2008). The dancer’s repertoire included leading roles in all the great classics, especially in the versions by Rudolf Nureyev, as well as “Till Eulenspiegel” (after Vaslav Nijinski), “La Symphonie Fantastique”, “Parade” and “Le Tricorne” (Léonide Massine), ” Suite en blanc” (Serge Lifar), “Etudes” (Harald Lander), the “Grand Pas Classique” (Victor Gsovsky), works by George Balanchine, Maurice Béjart, John Neumeier, Kenneth MacMillan, Roland Petit, Frederick Ashton, Martha Graham , Paul Taylor, William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián, Mats Ek, Jean-Claude Gallotta, Patrice Bart, Blanca Li and John Cranko’s “Onegin”. José Martínez has received numerous awards for his career as a dancer and is Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. José Martínez has made guest appearances in the largest companies and founded “José Martínez en Compagnie”, with which he performed regularly in Europe and the United States for several years. As a choreographer, he created his first creation “Mi Favorita” to music by Gaetano Donizetti in 2002. He then created classical pas de deux and smaller pieces for, among others, the students of the ballet school of the Opéra national de Paris. In October 2008 he choreographed “Les Enfants du paradis” for the Paris Opera Ballet based on the film by Marcel Carné, for which he received the “Prix Benois de la Danse”. He also created works for the Shanghai Ballet and the Boston Ballet.
From 2011 to 2019, Martínez was artistic director of the Compañía Nacional de Danza in Spain. During this time he gave the company a new identity, integrating the classical repertoire alongside contemporary ballet. He has worked with choreographers such as Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Angelin Preljocaj, Jiří Kylián, Johan Inger, William Forsythe, Itzik Galili, Sharon Fridman, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Andonis Foniadakis and the founder of the CND, Nacho Duato. He also showed numerous neoclassical and classical works and invited young choreographers from the Spanish scene to create a national identity for the CND. He promoted Ivan Perez, Alejandro Cerrudo, Iraxte Ansa, Cayetano Soto, Marcos Morau & La Veronal, Mario Bermudez, Goyo Montero, Juanjo Arques, Altea Nuñez and Arantxa Sagardoy. Martínez supported the creative talents of his dancers and also encouraged their choreographic activity. Since 2019 he has been a freelance teacher and choreographer. In March 2020 he staged “Le Corsaire” for the Ballet in Rome and later a new version of it in Ljubljana. His two choreographies for the Vienna New Year’s Concerts in 2020 and 2021 were also very successful. This year he will present his version of Giselle at the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb.