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Roland Petit has died

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Thank you CM for posting the news.

Roland Petit had a successful career as a dancer and a more important career as a choreographer.

Some of his works had a touch of the outre which along with his choreographic skill gave him a particular status on the European dance scene.

Background information:


Filmed performances of his works

"Le jeune homme et la mort" (1946),Jean Babilee and later Rudolf Nureyev

Les forains (1948) Later production by a fledgling Dutch ballet company

Carmen (1949) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3tXfWMvM-U

Le loup (1953)

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He had quite a rich and long and productive career! I second Bonnette in thanks to CM for posting and to Leonid for the clips.

It did not say if Zizi survives him. She was the ballerina in the film "Hans Christian Anderson, with Danny Kaye. Additionally, in approximately 1953-5 she was in one of the many flops my father worked on on Broadway, called "Girl in Pink Tights," about a French ballerina (and company?) coming to New York at the end of the 19th Century (it refers to the new "elevated railway"). I remember her as being as twinkling and cheery as her name implies. (I was about 8 years old.)

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I was so fortunate to see Petit and Jeanmaire on their first American tour in '49. We, on this side of the Atlantic, had read so much about them in Richard Buckle's magazine "Ballet". They did heat up the stage in Carmen with their unabashed passion. (It was unusual at the time in the pre-MacMillan, pre-Forsyte days to see such passion in a ballet---the closest was 'Pillar of Fire' where it was more lust, or relief) :)

My sympathy to his family. Rest in Peace.

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I saw him dance with Natalia Makarova in his "The Blue Angel" in 1986. It was the first time I sat

in the front row of the Met. The critics were not kind but I was in Ballet Heaven.

Thanks Leonid, for the wonderful clips. His choreography is athletic - almost acrobatic but

sweetly sentimental as in the kisses in Coppelia. His film work was outstanding too - the dream

ballet in Daddy Long Legs and Hans Christian Andersen come to mind.

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I have presumed that Roland Petit is less well known in America than he is in Europe, so I have cobbled together a brief and somewhat incomplete biography, which I hope, might be of interest.

Roland Petit was a distinguished figure in the post 2nd World War period albeit a seemingly restless artist who went wherever he could to find an audience for his works.

Born on January 13, 1924, in Paris, Roland was the son of the owner of a small bistro. When he was twelve years old, his mother, Italian Rose Repetto founder of Repetto ballet shoes who separated from her husband and left Paris, Roland and his younger brother Claude and was brought up by his father, Edmond Petit

Roland attended Paris Opera ballet school where studied under Gustave Ricaux. He would later study with Lubov Egorova, Olga Preobrazhenskaya and Madame Rousanne.

He joined the corps de ballet of Paris Opera Ballet Company reputedly aged 16.

During 1942-1944. Petit, together with Janine Charrat gave ballet peformances exhibiting their choreography.

In early 1943, when Petit was still a corps de ballet dancer, director of the Paris Opera Serge Lifar instructed him great solo part in the ballet "El Amor Brujo” music by M. de Falla.

It was at time that Petit expanded his choreographic activities outside of the Opera and in 1944 he resigned from the opera.

In 1945 he collaborated in forming the Ballets des Champs- Elysees and in 1946 he staged “Le Jeune home et la mort” a seminal work in his oeuvre.

Ever a creative and restless spirit he leaves the Ballets des Champs-Elysées to form his "Ballets de Paris" in 1949 he creates another lasting work Carmen for his wife to be Zizi Jeanmaire and the following year stages "Ballabile" for the Sadlers Wells Ballet starring Violetta Elvin and Alexander Grant.

In 1950 he brings Roland Petit’s Le Ballets de Paris to New York with a triple bill of Carmen. L’Oeuf a la Coque and Les Forains appearing at the National Theatre for six weeks and then transferred to the Broadhurst for two weeks.

In 1951 Hollywood calls him and he works on,” Hans Christian Anderson,” “Daddy long legs and “Anything Goes” and “The Glass Slipper.” Zizi Jeanmaire and Roland Petit marry in 1954. Petit was to continues working on films in Sweden and France.

From 1956 to 1961 he works at1: music-hall in Paris with the "Ballets de Paris". In 1965 we find Petit creating the Notre-Dames de Paris for the Paris Opera and takes the leading role.

In 1967 he stages a most unlikely work for Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias and Rudolf Nureyev called "Paradise Lost" at the Royal Opera House. Photographs of Nureyev diving through lips on a backcloth were widely published in magazines. In the same year he stages “Extase “for La Scala Milan with Nureyev and later “Turangalia” for the Paris Opera Ballet.

By 1972 he was leading Ballet de Marseille and in this year for Maya Plisetskaya and Rudy Bryan he staged “Rose Malade.”

In 1978, Petit staged a balletic version of "The Queen of Spades" and later that year he staged his "Notre Dame de Paris" in Leningrad for the Kirov Ballet.

In 1987, Petit created “The Blue Angel” for Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev which was staged at the Palais des Sports in Paris.

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s Petit was still active always finding a muse including DomInique Khalfouni and Altynai Asylmuratova. Works followed for Nicholas La Riche. Carla Fracci and Marie-Claude Petragalla.

In 1998. Petit staged “Le Jeune homme et la mort” and “Carmen” at the Mariinsky Theatre, the two casts for which were - Altynai Asylmuratova with Islam Baimuradov and Diana Vishneva with Farukh Ruzimatov.

In 1999, Petit staged “Clavigo” at the Paris Opera with Nicolas Le Riche.

In 2001, he chose Nikolai Tsiskaridze, Ilze Liepa and Svetlana Lunkina to appear in his Bolshoi Theatre staging of “The Queen of Spades.”

Petit is survived by Zizi Jeanmaire his significant wife, muse and collaborator and their daughter.


While researching for accuracy before I posted, I found the following website which I found of interest and I hope you do too.


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