The dancer and choreographer extraordinaire created more than 100 works.

Ballet lovers bid farewell to French dance royalty with the death of choreographer Roland Petit, who passed away on Sunday July 10 in Geneva at the age of 87.

During an illustrious 60-year career he created more than 100 dramatic works for the Paris Opéra Ballet and other companies, ranging from a smoky Carmenand classic Coppéliato innovative pieces based on the writings of Marcel Proust and the music of Pink Floyd. All are marked by the embodiment of Gallic chic that made Petit an international celebrity in the 1960s and 1970s.

He danced with Margot Fonteyn and choreographed for Rudolf Nureyev; he counted Maria Callas and Mikhail Baryshnikov among his friends and attracted artists from other fields – including Yves Saint-Laurent, Pablo Picasso and Orson Welles – as collaborators. Petit also made forays into Hollywood, choreographing for films such as Daddy Long Legswith Fred Astaire.

Born in 1924 in Villemomble near Paris, Petit entered the Paris Opéra school of dance at the age of 9. As a restless 20-year-old he struck out on his own, founding Les Ballets des Champs-Élysées in 1945 followed by Les...

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