Aurelie Dupont, a principal ballerina for the Paris Opera, will step down from the star position next month at age 42 after performing "L'Histoire de Manon", which will be shown in hundreds of cinemas across Europe and North America.
With an emotional smile, Dupont told a news conference Wednesday that she was moving on after 32 years -- 17 of them as principal dancer -- to become the Opera's Ballet Mistress, teaching the company's classes and running the dancers through their rehearsals.
She also planned to keep dancing, though "more in contemporary creations".
Benjamin Millepied, director of dance at the Paris Opera -- and also the husband of actress Natalie Portman, whom he choreographed in the movie "Black Swan" -- called Dupont "the best of the Paris Opera's dance school".
The retiring star, he said, incarnated "musicality, elegance, acting talent" as one of the 18 principal dancers in the Opera's 154-strong company.
Dupont said one of the things she would be sure to impart to the dancers when she becomes Ballet Mistress would be that, "by wanting to do things well technically, we sometimes forget that this is a show, a pleasure".
She herself learnt that lesson late, recalling that the late German modern dance director Pina Bausch had once remarked to her that "I am a bit of a 'warrior' -- I didn't take any pleasure" in dancing, only striving for technical perfection.
Under Bausch's guidance, she revealed more emotion, unleashing a visible passion that made her famous in some of the biggest tragic roles in ballet.
"Each time I died at the end, I loved it!" Dupont said, laughing. "I completely become the character. I am Manon. I am Juliette."
Her final May 18 performance as principal at the Paris Opera will be beamed live to 350 cinemas across Europe. The recorded version will later be shown in some 100 cinemas in the United States and Canada.