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Roland Petit obituary

11 July 2011 4:06 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Choreographer and dancer who created stunning roles for his wife, Zizi Jeanmaire

When Roland Petit's Les Ballets des Champs Elysées opened its first London season in 1946, the company brought to the British dance scene an explosion of chic and excitement which had long been missing. Not only was the standard of male dancing from Petit and his fellow dancer Jean Babilée better than anything for many years, the enthusiasm of the young company was a contrast to the restrained correctness of the Sadler's Wells dancers. Les Forains, a piece about a troupe of strolling entertainers, distinguished by beautiful decors and costumes by Christian Bérard, was the triumph of what the critic Richard Buckle described as "an evening of wonderful surprises".

Petit, who has died from leukaemia aged 87, was capable of tailoring a role so that it perfectly reflected the abilities of the dancer on whom it was made, often »

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