Opera ballet

Review: ‘Reset’ follows Benjamin Millepied’s efforts to rejuvenate the Paris Opera ballet

For a year and a half, Benjamin Millepied directed the Paris Opera Ballet, where he worked, among other things, to diversify the company and rethink the hierarchy of the institution. At one point in “Reset,” Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai’s gripping documentary about Mr. Millepied choreographing a new ballet, he grabs an injured dancer’s foot and vigorously massages the heel. “Softer is useless,” he said, ignoring her moans.

Mr. Millepied, the choreographer of Darren Aronofsky’s film “Black Swan” (where he met his wife, Natalie Portman) and former director of the New York City Ballet, is not being gentle. He may be French, but in “Reset”, Mr. Millepied – brash, funny, smart – is really an American living in Paris. And most of us already know that the job didn’t work out in the end: last year he announced his resignation as director of dance there.

It’s hard to make changes at the bureaucratic Paris Opera, but Mr. Millepied – a sort of real-life Rodrigo from “Mozart in the Jungle” – resists it all with cheerful tenacity. He can be elusive, especially to his assistant, who continually asks, “Have you seen Benjamin?” During a meeting, she rattles off her appointment list; he turns to the camera with one hand covering his mouth and says, “Look at his diary. She will kill me.

But “Reset” also fleshes out the creative process and shows how, for Mr. Millepied, pleasure must always be part of the dance. Did the film make me want to see Mr. Millepied’s ballet, “Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward”, on stage? Yes. And that’s high praise.