French choreographer Roland Petit dies aged 87
Monday 11 July 2011
French choreographer and dancer Roland Petit, who helped set up Les Ballets des Champs-Elysees and formed several other dance companies, died Sunday in Geneva at the age of 87, the Paris Opera Ballet said.
President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to what he called "an immense creator who left his mark on the art of dance in the 20th century".
Sarkozy in a statement expressed his condolences to "Zizi Jeanmaire, his wife and his muse, with whom for 50 years he formed a legendary couple that was dear to the hearts of all French people".
Petit created around a hundred dramatic ballets, which often combined fantasy elements with contemporary realism, including "The Strolling Players" and "Carmen", and did the choreography for several French and US films.
French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said Petit was "one of the major choreographers of the 20th century".
"With his muse Renee Jeanmaire, or Zizi, with whom he formed a legendary couple, he wrote some of the most beautiful pages of contemporary music hall," the minister said.
Jeanmaire performed in many of his creations.
Petit last year returned to the Paris Opera Ballet with three of his favourite ballets, "The Young Man and Death," which was based on a libretto by Jean Cocteau, "Le Rendezvous" and "The Wolf".
"Each time he came it was like the return of the prodigal son," said Brigitte Lefevre, artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet where Petit trained as a dancer.
Petit was born on January 13, 1924 in the northeastern Paris suburb of Villemomble to an Italian mother and a father who ran a cafe in Les Halles, the traditional central market of the city.
At the age of 10 he started attending the dance school at the Paris Opera Ballet.
He served as artistic director of that institution for a few months in 1970 but gave up the job to buy the Casino de Paris concert hall in which he staged revues that starred his wife.
From 1972 to 1998 he was director of the Ballet de Marseille.
His later choreographic creations include "Pink Floyd Ballet", to the music of the iconic rock group.
Petit had lived in Geneva for the last 10 years. He has one daughter, Valentine.
Petit's memoirs, titled "J'ai danse sur les flots" (I Danced on the Waves), were published in 1993.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit