#TBT: Zizi Jeanmaire in Roland Petit's “Carmen” Variation (1961)

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.


The couple, who married in 1954, were partners in life as well as onstage. They spent several years working in Hollywood, and later reprised their roles in Carmen for a version of the ballet in the 1961 French film Black Tights. This clip of Carmen's variation immortalizes Jeanmaire's sexy sophistication and brilliant commitment to a role.

Emerging from a back corner of the bar in the tavern scene, Jeanmaire toys with her fan as a tantalizing rhythm begins to build. The turned-in-and-out swivels and precise footwork in Petit's Latin-infused ballet vocabulary accentuate her long legs. Jeanmaire is equally astonishing with each coy profile and shoulder shrug as she is in the variation's finale of rousing fouettés. A duo ahead of their time, Petit's choreography and Jeanmaire's performance are still every bit as iconic as they were in the '60s! Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

Latest Posts


Getty Images

How Do You Like Our New Look?

Notice anything different about our site? Perhaps the bigger, splashier images and the fun new fonts?

Welcome to the new pointemagazine.com! We just got a fabulous new redesign, and we can't wait to share the results with you. Have a look around—our exclusive dance photography looks more beautiful than ever, and our stories are easier to navigate. We think you'll agree, ballet has never looked this good!

Intern at Pointe!

Are you a total bunhead who loves to write? You might be the perfect fit for Pointe. We're seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about ballet and journalism.

Keep reading

There’s a New Dance Podcast in Town

Hi there, dance friends. I'm the editor in chief of Dance Spirit and content director of The Dance Edit newsletter. And I'm here with a bit of news sure to excite dancers, dance enthusiasts, and other assorted dance obsessives: The Dance Edit is launching a podcast!

Join me and other editors from Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit, and Pointe for The Dance Edit Podcast, a weekly roundtable discussion of the top stories moving and shaking (not sorry) the dance world. Beginning March 5th, we'll get you up to tempo (also not sorry) in about 15 minutes every Thursday morning.

Keep reading