Viral Videos

French ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire first gained fame when she premiered the titular title role in Roland Petit's Carmen in 1949, opposite Petit as Carmen's lover Don José. With her famously cropped hair (and cropped tutu!), Jeanmaire's performance as the seductive gypsy took the world by storm, catapulting her and Petit's careers.

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I can't decide what's more impressive in this 1996 clip of Roland Petit's Notre Dame de Paris. Is it the Frenchman's choreography, which evokes the complex relationship between the gypsy-turned-damsel and her unlikely hero? Or is it the two former Paris Opéra Ballet étoiles' interpretations of the characters? Nicolas Le Riche plays a convincing hunchback Quasimodo, maintaining the role's difficult physical demands while flawlessly executing the partnering. But, honestly, it's hard for me to take my eyes off of Isabelle Guérin as Esmeralda. In the pas de deux's playful moments, she's the strong, sensual gypsy, evoked by her pristine yet free dancing. In the slow, controlled partnering moments, however, she exhibits Esmeralda's vulnerability at the hands of both her rescuer and captor.

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Choreographer Roland Petit was for years the ballet world's master of theatrical showmanship. Bolstered by rich, beautifully designed costumes and decor, his works oozed sensual style.

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In English, “le jeune homme et la mort" translates to “the young man and death." There's no missing the somber tone in this clip of Roland Petit's short ballet. As the young man, Rudolf Nureyev dances in a reverie to the melancholic organ chimes. Throughout the technical tricks and complicated prop maneuvering that peppers Petit's choreography, Nureyev never loses his trance-like stare. The reason for his reverie soon strides through the door. Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, based on the libretto written by Jean Cocteau, is about a man who—consumed by his love for a woman—is eventually driven to suicide.

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