Ballets des Champs-Elysées

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Roland Petit (b. 1924)

Boris Kochno (1904—1990)



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An influential French company which performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris from 1945 to 1950 under the guidance of Roger Eudes, the theatre's director. It grew out of the Soirées de la Danse performances organized by the French critic Irène Lidova at the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris. These were designed to provide a forum for young choreographers rebelling against the tradition-bound Paris Opera. Roland Petit's first ballet, Les Forains (mus. Henri Sauguet, des. Christian Bérard), had been presented at one of these evenings, so impressing Eudes that he invited Petit to form a company at his theatre. Petit was joined by Lidova and the writer Boris Kochno, who had worked with Diaghilev. Petit and Charrat were among the first to make dances for the Champs-Elysées company. Dancers included Petit, Jeanmaire, Philippart, Perrault, and Vyroubova. The company was noted for its high artistic standards, its innovative choreography and elegant designs, its youthful dancers and distinguished collaborators, including several of Diaghilev's former associates—Cocteau, Kochno, and Bérard. Among its most significant creations were Charrat's Jeu de cartes (1945), Babilée's L'Amour et son amour (1948), Milloss's Le Portrait de Don Quichotte (1947), and Petit's Déjeuner sur l'herbe, Le Rendez-vous, La Fiancée du diable (1945), Les Amours de Jupiter, Le Jeune Homme et la mort (1946), and Le Bal des blanchisseuses and Treize danses (1947), the last bringing Violette Verdy and Leslie Caron to prominence. The company toured widely abroad, becoming a glamorous ambassador for post-war French dance. Petit left in 1947–8 (having fallen out with Kochno) to found Ballets de Paris. After his departure new works by Babilée and Lichine were added to the repertoire. Following the death of the designer Bérard and the loss of its leading ballerina Irene Skorik, the company lost its home at the Champs-Elysées Theatre in 1950 and disbanded shortly afterwards.

Subjects: Dance.

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