writing on the death of ROLAND PETIT, July, 2011:
Another great choreographer has left us a few days ago. Roland Petit. I was very fortunate to work under his direction from a very early age as he was the director of the school at the Marseille Opera house where I trained. During those years I had many occasions to witness creation of plenty of his ballets as we had our classes in the same studios his comapny was using so the little boy that I was would arrive early and sit down in a corner… and learn.
A few years later, I was even part of that same company (Ballets de Marseille) and experienced the thrill of working with “Le Maitre” himself. He was very demanding and didn`t accept mediocrity even from his leading dancers. During all these years I rubbed shoulders with so many great names, Makarova, Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Gainsbourg, Dupond, Pontois, Kain. but most of all… his wife Zizi Jeanmaire. The most delightful lady I ever met. So simple and elegant. Hard working, humble… I still worship her to this day.
For the first time this week end, a programme of Roland Petits works (Carmen, Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, L` Arlesienne) will be danced by the English National Ballet without the presence of the Maitre himself. This sure will be a very emotional time for his assistants who worked so hard for weeks with the company to make sure everything was respected to please him (even the lights are set up by the same person, following his demands).
I`m sure a lot of people here have seen the revues he made for Zizi at the Alhambra and later at the Casino de Paris in the 60s and 70s. Not to mention his work for Hollywood such as Hans Christian Andersen and Daddy Long Legs.
These are such sad times when a chidhood hero goes away…