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Month May 2013

Extraordinary friendships: Lindsay Kemp, Patrick Dupond, Zizi and Roland Petit.

Lindsay Kemp’s work has a deep background in classical dance and a continuum may be drawn from The Ballets Russes and Nijinsky to Lindsay and the visual refinement and intellectual depth of his creations. If Diaghilev had been alive today, he would surely be seeking to make Lindsay Kemp star of his company. These pictures wonderfully illustrate that link, showing the appreciation and friendship of some of the greatest names in the ballet world.

Lindsay Kemp will be performing the World Premiering of Peter and the Wolf On May 27 at 21:00 THEATRE 4 MORI – Livorno with the Orchestra of The Mascagni Musical Institute to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the foundation.

Lindsay Kemp, Roland Petit and his wife Ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire.

Screen shot 2013-05-21 at 14.41.20

Photograph courtesy of Lindsay Kemp.

Roland Petit in more depth:

“Petit helped set up dance company Les Ballets des Champs-Elysees in 1945 and is credited with revolutionising ballet for his theatrical choreography.

France’s Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand paid tribute to him, saying he was “one of the major choreographers of the 20th Century”.

Petit is credited with creating more than 100 ballets during his career.

He married dancer Zizi Jeanmaire in 1954 and choreographed a number of pieces for her.

“With his muse Zizi Jeanmaire, he wrote some of the most beautiful pages of contemporary music hall,” Mr Mitterrand said.

Born in 1924, Petit joined the Paris Opera Ballet when he was nine years old, but left when he was 20 to create and perform his own works at the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris.

After forming Les Ballets des Champs-Elysees, he remained at the company for three years as principal dancer, ballet master, and choreographer.

He then formed the Ballets de Paris in 1948, where he created The Young Girls of the Night for Margot Fonteyn.

In 1949, it was Jeanmaire’s performance in Petit’s production of Carmen in London that thrust the dancer into the spotlight.

Petit married dancer Zizi Jeanmaire in 1954.

It was not long before Hollywood came calling and Petit spent four years in the US choreographing films including Hans Christian Andersen, The Glass Slipper, Daddy Long Legs and Anything Goes.

In 1965 he returned to the Paris Opera Ballet to create two new ballets – Adage et Variations and Notre Dame de Paris.

He served as artistic director for the company 1970 but resigned after six months to buy the Casino de Paris concert hall in which he staged revues that starred his wife, Jeanmaire.

In 1972 Petit helped found the Ballet de Marseille, which he would lead as director for 26 years.

During this time, he created such works as Pink Floyd Ballet, Puss in Boots, The Queen of Spades and The Cheetah.

After his tenure, Petit continued to tour the world with his new ballets.

Last year he returned to the Paris Opera Ballet with three of his favourite ballets, The Young Man and Death, Le Rendez-vous and The Wolf.

“Each time he came it was like the return of the prodigal son,” said Brigitte Lefevre, artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet where Petit trained as a dancer.

[Extract from Roland Petit:

Lindsay Kemp and Patrick Dupond.

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Photograph courtesy of Lindsay Kemp.

Patrick Dupond:

“After experimenting with sports and martial arts as a child, Patrick Dupond found himself taken with the dramatic flair of classical music coupled with the gracious movements of dance. He was recognized as a great talent immediately, but it was not until Max Bozzoni became his teacher that Dupond was able to rise to the level of the elite. After working tirelessly with Bozzoni, he quickly progressed and eventually secured a place within the Paris Opera Ballet Company. In 1980 he became a ballet celebrity after winning the Gold medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition in Bulgaria.

After the victorious competition, Patrick’s dream of becoming principle dancer for the Company was finally made a reality, allowed him the opportunity to dance alongside legends such as Rudolf Nureyev and Alvin Ailey. He was named Artistic Director of the French ballet in Nancy in 1988. Two years later, Dupond returned to the Paris Opera becoming its Dance Director.

In 2000, Dupond was in a nearly fatal car accident that forced him to relearn the art of dance from scratch. His old mentor, Max Bozzoni, came back to Dupond’s aid, patiently retraining the dancer, and allowing him to continue his resounding career, enchanting audiences with his captivating and communicative dancing.”

Mayerling; a ‘tour de force’ for the male dancer.

This ballet by Kenneth Macmillan (1978) to music by Franz Liszt is directly historical and political. One can watch it as a violent Romantic ballet . But it is a true story of events which led to  Cataclyism. Instability of personality often may affect families, but not usually nations.


 One forgets the dark side of of 19th century Romanticism: its searches for meaning and identity: its swings of extreme emotions:  its black brooding. Not only individuals, but nations were caught up in these swirls. The murder on January 30,1889, of his seventeen year old mistress by Crown Prince Rudolph, and then his suicide at the scene of the murder (if indeed that is what happened), left Franz Joseph, the Habsburg Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, without an heir to the throne. The throne then passed to his brother, whose son and heir  was Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. Their assassination in Sarajevo in June 1914 by an Yugoslav nationalist  occasioned the onset of World War I. Even today in Budapest, Sophie is remembered.

In the ballet, one sees Hungarian nationalists trying to persuade Rudolph of the threat of a looming Germany under the rising Bismarck.

Mayerling Ed Watson cCM

 Edward Watson of the Royal Ballet has described this as his most difficult role to achieve. The violence and the waves of emotions are captured by breathtaking and sustained lifts which sometimes end with a terrifying heave or throw. The pas de deux work seems more in the air than on the ground. The sense of the woman being tossed, abused, caressed and hit is staggering..The sadistic link between love and terror is present. To achieve this requires endurance and strength on the part of the male dancer. If one lift is to have three phases, there will have to be constant shifts in where the weight and hands are placed. It is important that the couple are well matched in size. Preferably the ballerina should be smaller in proportion to the male in order to fly through the air.

It is a ‘tour de force’ for the male dancer, even though attention is often focused on the female dancer in what I would call ‘ an aerial ballet’.