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Roland Petit dies at 87

Choreographed Caron musicals, French ballets

Choreographer Roland Petit, whose creations dazzled audiences from Paris to Hollywood and inspired dancers, writers and designers died in Geneva on Sunday. He was 87.

Petit first worked in Hollywood as the choreographer and onscreen dancer in Danny Kaye vehicle “Hans Christian Andersen” (1952). He choreographed the ballets for Leslie Caron starrer “The Glass Slipper” and for Caron-Fred Astaire pic “Daddy Long Legs” (both 1955). He ended his U.S. work with contributions to Bing Crosby film “Anything Goes” but returned decades later to choreograph a sequence in Taylor Hackford’s 1985 film “White Nights,” starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines.

Petit created 11 works for the Paris Opera, including “Notre Dame de Paris,” and choreographed for Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand, paying tribute to Petit, said that some of his works brought together designers like Yves Saint-Laurent for costumes, Picasso for decor and writer and poet Jacques Prevert.

Petit is survived by his wife, Zizi Jeanmaire, a ballerina-turned-music hall performer who collaborated with her husband.

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