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French choreographer and dancer Roland Petit dies in Geneva

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French choreographer and dancer Roland Petit, who helped set up Les Ballets des Champs-Elysees and formed several more dance companies, has died Sunday aged-87 in Geneva. 


Petit created around a hundred dramatic ballets, often combining fantasy with contemporary realism, including "The Strolling Players" and "Carmen," and did the choreography for several French and US films.

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.

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 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. For the last 10 years he has lived in Geneva.



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