Born in Nice, he attended and graduated from Music and Dance Conservatoire of that city. In 1977 he won the First Prize in Prix de Lausanne, entitling him to enter the Ballet School of the Paris Opéra. In 1978 he joined the Paris Opéra Ballet Company under the direction of Violette Verdy and later of Rosella Hightower. He was appointed soloist in 1981, when Rudolf Nureyev was in charge of artistic direction of the Parisian complex. At the Paris Opéra Theatre he danced the most important roles in the classical and contemporary repertoire, working with several guest choreographers such as Maurice Béjart, John Neumeier, Kenneth MacMillan, Alwin Nikolais, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, Glen Tetley, and Roland Petit. In 1985 he took part in the creation of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo as Leading Dancer under the direction of Pierre Lacotte and Ghislaine Thesmar, and after a few months in the presence of HRH Princess Caroline of Monaco he was awarded the title Étoile. With Ballets de Monte-Carlo since 1993, he has interpreted all the most important roles in the classical, neoclassical and contemporary repertoire, and has starred in creations that are expressly dedicated to him by choreographers like Uwe Scholz, Jean Christophe Maillot, John Neumeier, and Roland Petit.
In 1986 he received the Leonide Massine Prize and in 1992 Prince Ranieri of Monaco awarded him with the title of Knight of the Order of Cultural Merits.
In 1993 he became Principal of the Hamburg Ballet Company directed by the choreographer John Neumeier, where he ended his brilliant career as a dancer. In 1996 he began a new professional experience at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, where until 1998 he held the position of Maître de Ballet and assistant choreographer of the MaggioDanza troupe, for which he also created the choreography of Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo directed by Luca Ronconi, and the choreography of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi, directed by Mariani. He subsequently became Maître de Ballet at Zürcher Ballett directed by Heinz Spoerli. In 2000 he was appointed Artistic Director of MaggioDanza at Teatro Comunale Fiorentino. From September of that same year, he was principal Maître de Ballet of the Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala. In 2002 he was appointed Director of Director of the Ballet Company a position he held until 2007. During his management, the ballet repertoire of La Scala was expanded and renewed with new productions such as Swan Lake by Vladimir Bourmeister, La Dame aux Camélias by John Neumeier, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by George Balanchine, The Cage by Jerome Robbins, Symphony of Psalms and Petite Mort by Jiří Kylián, Marguerite and Armand by Frederick Ashton, Annonciation and La Stravaganza by Angelin Preljocaj, and Polyphonia by Christopher Wheeldon. Not to mention the oeuvres of some of the most renowned Italian choreographers such as Mauro Bigonzetti, Fabrizio Monteverde and Jacopo Godani, in addition to his close collaboration with the great choreographers Maurice Béjart and Roland Petit. During his tenure, the Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company presented this repertoire on the greatest stages of the world on numerous international tours. Since 2003 he has been Director of the Dance Department of Teatro alla Scala Academy and in October 2006 he also became Director of the historic La Scala Ballet School. During his management he has given his pupils the opportunity to attend master classes with internationally renowned dancers and choreographers. Moreover, here too, he has enriched the School’s repertoire with important choreographies such as Napoli by August Bournonville, Serenade, Who cares?, Theme and Variations, and Tarantella by George Balanchine, La Bella Addormentata by Mats Ek, Gaîté parisienne suite and La luna by Maurice Béjart, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude by William Forsythe, Symphony in D, Evening Songs and Un ballo by Jiří Kylián, The Unsung by José Limón, Gymnopédie by Roland Petit, and Larmes Blanches and La Stravaganza by Angelin Preljocaj. He has also choreographed new editions of celebrated titles from the repertoire for the School, such as The Nutcracker set to music by Tchaikovsky, and Cinderella to music by Prokofiev.
In July 2005 he was awarded the title “Knight of Arts and Letters” by the French Ministry of Culture.
Since October 2016 he has once again been entrusted the Direction of the Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company.