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Roland Petit and the Ballet of Marseille

by Patricia Boccadoro

MARSEILLES, 31 January 1998 - Roland Petit, who celebrated his seventy-fourth birthday this month, resigned at the end of last year from his post as director of the Ballet National de Marseille after twenty-five years.

A man of great personal charm, he helped contribute to a renaissance of French ballet after the war, working with such writers and designers as Boris Kochno, Christian Bérard and Jean Cocteau to stage superbly decorated ballets and music-hall revues, often featuring his wife, Zizi Jeanmaire. His decors and costumes were designed by Picasso, Derain, Marie Laurencin, Delvaux and Hockney.

Creator of more than fifty ballets, including such masterpieces as "Le Jeune Homme et La Mort", "Le Loup", "Carmen" and "Notre Dame de Paris", Petit plans to settle in Geneva and produce films on dance.

He has stressed, nevertheless, that he will continue to work and create for the company in collaboration with a new director, who it is hoped will be an international figure, familiar with Petit's repertory. For the moment, however, a new director of the Marseilles company has not been named.

An exhibition of Petit's unique collection of original manuscripts by Anouilh, Aymé, Cocteau together with photographs of his ballets is planned for this year at the Palais Garnier.

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