Abbé Perrin (Director of...
Roland Petit was born in Villemomble, and entered the Paris Opera’s Ballet School in 1933. He joined the Corps de ballet in 1940 and rose through the ranks to become a Sujet there. He left the House in 1944 to devote himself to choreography. The following year he founded the Ballets des Champs-Élysées and then, in 1948, the Ballets de Paris. His creations, Les Forains, Le Rendez-vous and Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, brought together writers, set designers and composers, immediately affirming a theatrical conception of ballet. In 1949, his production of Carmen in London with Zizi Jeanmaire earned him international fame. Hollywood invited him to choreograph several films. In 1961, the revue Zizi, with its famous number Mon truc en plumes, was a huge success at the Alhambra. Invited back to the Paris Opera in 1965, he created Adages et Variations and Notre-Dame de Paris. In 1970, Roland Petit agreed to become Dance Director of the Paris Opera but he resigned six months later. In 1972, he took over the ballet Municipale de Marseille which, in 1981 became the Ballet national de Marseille-Roland Petit. In 1992, the company would also incorporate Petit’s Ballet School. After leading the company for 26 years, he left Marseille in 1998 and settled in Switzerland. Roland Petit created or revived numerous works for the Paris Opera and its Ballet School: Notre-Dame de Paris (world premiere, 1965), Shéhérazade (world premiere, 1974), Le Loup and La Symphonie fantastique (world premieres, 1975), Nana and La Nuit transfigurée (world premieres, 1976), Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (world premiere, 1980) Carmen and Le Jeune Homme et la Mort (1990), Debussy pour sept danseurs (world premiere, 1990), La Prisonnière (1991), Le Rendez-vous (1992), Les Forains (1993), Camera obscura (world premiere), Passacaille (world premiere) and Rythme de valses (world premiere, 1994), L’Arlésienne, Clavigo (world premieres, 1999), and Proust ou les intermittences du cœur (2007). The Paris Opera is indissociable from the life and career of Roland Petit, who came to know several generations of the Paris Opera Ballet’s dancers. In September 2010, he was present one last time at the Palais Garnier for a programme dedicated to him and his work.
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