From Japan, by way of Australia, Hannah O’Neill takes a leading role in Paris

The progress of Hannah O’Neill at the Paris Opera Ballet has been exceptional but I don’t think anyone would believe she could be dancing the role of Odette/Odile quite so soon.

Next month, on April 8, she is cast to play the role of the swan queen, dancing with Yannick Bittencourt as Prince Siegfried in the POB’s production of Nureyev’s Swan Lake.

Yesterday, the dance writer, Laura Cappelle, wrote in The Financial Times that the new director of POB, Benjamin Millepied, has “tapped the company’s young talent” to dance principal roles.

The March 2015 issue of Dance Europe also has an interesting interview with Millepied, written by Emma Kauldhar.

Asked whether he was deviating from hierarchy, he said: “Yes, you have to. You have to put people on when they’re ready; you have to keep them motivated. You have to keep people progressing”.

O’Neill was born in Japan, the daughter of a Japanese mother and a New Zealand father, and with her family, moved to New Zealand when she was 8.

She then moved to Australia to train at the Australian Ballet School and won the Prix de Lausanne in 2009.

Joining the Paris Opera Ballet on a short term contract in 2011, O’Neill was promoted to the rank of coryphee late in 2013.

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Hannah O'Neill, photographer unknown

Hannah O’Neill, photographer unknown

Hannah O'Neill, photographer unknown

Hannah O’Neill, photographer unknown