Renée Jeanmaire

(b. 1924)

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(b Paris, 29 Apr. 1924)

French dancer, singer, and music hall star. She studied at the Paris Opera School from 1933 and entered the company in 1939, where she remained until 1944. Although possessing a brilliant classical technique, she never fitted the ballerina mould and found her greatest success in the chic and exuberant choreography of Roland Petit, whom she married in 1954. Before working with Petit she appeared at the Soirées de la Danse in Paris (1944), and danced with the Nouveau Ballet de Monte Carlo (1946), where she created principal roles in several ballets by Lifar, and with de Basil's Ballets Russes for its final London season in 1947. In 1948 she joined Petit's Ballets de Paris, creating leading roles in many of his ballets, including—famously—Carmen (1949), which transformed her overnight from classical dancer to long-legged, short-haired gamine. La Croqueuse de diamants (1950) revealed that she had a husky and attractive singing voice. Although she created the role of Roxane in Petit's Cyrano de Bergerac in 1959, by the 1950s her career was focused on cabaret and film and it was here that she achieved her greatest fame. Her many film appearances included Hans Christian Andersen (1951) with Danny Kaye; also Black Tights (1960), Anything Goes (1956), Charmants Garçons (1957), and Folies-Bergère (1960), all of them choreographed by Petit. Her significant Broadway success was starring in The Girl in Pink Tights (1953). In 1970 she and Petit bought the Casino de Paris, where she starred in La Revue, which Petit choreographed and directed. A second revue, Zizi, je t'aime, followed in 1972. She made her comeback at the Paris Opera in Petit's Symphonie fantastique in 1975. In 1990 she created the role of Carabosse in her husband's Ballet de Marseilles staging of The Sleeping Beauty, a role she performed on pointe. In 1996 she returned to the stage for a show dedicated to the French singer Serge Gainsbourg. She was made Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 1974.

Subjects: Dance.

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