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Dance choreographer Roland Petit dies at 87

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French choreographer and dancer Roland Petit died Sunday in Geneva at age 87. French cultural minister Frédéric Mitterand called Petit "one of the major choreographers of the 20th century."


AFP - French choreographer and dancer Roland Petit, who helped set up Les Ballets des Champs-Elysees and formed several more dance companies, died Sunday in Geneva at the age of 87, the Paris Opera Ballet said.

Petit created around a hundred dramatic ballets, which often combined fantasy 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 that Petit was "one of the major choreographers of the 20th century".

"With his muse Renee Jeanmaire, or Zizi, with whom he formed a mythic couple, he wrote some of the most beautiful pages of contemporary music hall," the minister said.

Petit last year returned to the Paris Opera Ballet with three of his favourite ballets, "The Young Man and Death," "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 served as Paris Opera artistic director for a few months in the 1970s but he gave up the job to buy the Casino de Paris concert hall in which he staged revues that starred his wife Zizi Jeanmaire.

From 1972 to 1998 he was director of the Ballet de Marseille.

Petit had lived in Geneva for the last 10 years. He has one daughter, Valentine.


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