Disneyland veteran to head ballet company

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The Independent Culture

The last Frenchman to bring his Disneyland experience to Britain helped to save the Millennium Dome from total failure. Now Sadler's Wells, Britain's premier dance venue, has appointed a new chief executive who was also trained at the theme park.

However, Jean-Luc Choplin, who succeeds Ian Albery as head of Sadler's Wells in October, does have a solid curriculum vitae in dance as well. As managing director of the Paris Opera Ballet and School, he worked with Rudolf Nureyev and choreographers including Jerome Robbins, Merce Cunningham and Twyla Tharp.

But his experience with Disney will have helped woo the board of the prestigious venue in Islington, north London. Mr Choplin, 52, was vice-president of entertainment for Disneyland Paris, where he adapted the American Disney experience for Europeans before moving to Walt Disney in Los Angeles in charge of creative development.

The American press saw him as more Medici than Mickey Mouse in a job promoting high-brow arts projects, such as new symphonies, for the celebration of the millennium.

After heading a staff of more than 1,800 in Paris, Sadler's Wells may prove a shock. Even including freelancers, Mr Choplin will have just 200 staff and a budget of £10m. But he will at least have a refurbished building and funding – at £1.5m – that is 15 times what it was when Mr Albery joined eight years ago.

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