Petit, Roland

Petit, Roland rōläNˈ pətēˈ [key], 1924–2011, French dancer and choreographer, b. Villemomble. Petit joined the Paris Opéra company at 15 and in 1948 founded Les Ballets de Paris de Roland Petit. His best-known work, the erotically charged Carmen (1949), set to music from Georges Bizet's opera, was created for his company; Renée (Zizi) Jeanmaire, who later (1954) became his wife, danced the title role. Other well-known early works include the poetic Le Jeune homme et la mort (1946), in which he collaborated with Jean Cocteau, and Ballabile (1950). Petit later turned to less classical forms, such as choreographing films, e.g., Hans Christian Andersen (1952) and Daddy Long Legs (1955), and music hall revues (1956–61). He returned to ballet in the 1960s when commissioned to present the Festivals populaires de ballet at the Chaillot theater in France. In 1972 he founded the Ballet de Marseilles, which he directed until 1998. Among his later dances are Symphonie Fantastique (1975), The Blue Angel (1985), and Clavigo (1999). Petit's chic and theatrical style made him an extremely popular figure in French dance.

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