Le jeune homme et la mort
Le Jeune Homme et La Mort is a ballet by Roland Petit
Roland Petit
Roland Petit was a French choreographer and dancer born in Villemomble, near Paris, France. He trained at the Paris Opéra Ballet school, and became well known for his creative ballets.-Biography:...

, choreographed in 1946 to Bach's
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 Passacaglia in C Minor, BWV
The Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis is the numbering system identifying compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach. The prefix BWV, followed by the work's number, is the shorthand identification for Bach's compositions...

 582 (omitting the fugue), with a one-act libretto by Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, María...

. It tells the story of a Young Man driven to suicide by his faithless lover. Sets were by Georges Wakhévitch
Georges Wakhevitch
Georges Wakhévitch was an art director .He was raised in Paris, where he studied painting. He was an assistant to film director Lazare Meerson in the 1920s....

 and costumes variously reported as being by Karinska or Cocteau. Petit is purported to have created Le Jeune Homme et La Mort for his wife Zizi Jeanmaire
Zizi Jeanmaire
Zizi Jeanmaire is a ballet dancer and widow of renowned dancer and choreographer Roland Petit. She became famous in the 1950s after playing the title role in the ballet version of Carmen, produced in London in 1949, and went on to appear in several Hollywood films.-Background:Born in Paris,...

, but it is also reported to have been danced by Jean Babilée
Jean Babilée
Jean Babilée is a prominent French dancer and choreographer of the latter half of the 20th century. He is considered to be one of modern ballet's greatest performers, and the first French dancer to gain international acclaim...

 and Nathalie Philippart at its 25 June 1946 premiere at the Ballets des Champs-Elysées.

In 1951, Petit staged the ballet at American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre , based in New York City, was one of the foremost ballet companies of the 20th century. It continues as a leading dance company in the world today...

. In 1966, he filmed the ballet in France with Rudolf Nureyev
Rudolf Nureyev
Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev was a Russian dancer, considered one of the most celebrated ballet dancers of the 20th century. Nureyev's artistic skills explored expressive areas of the dance, providing a new role to the male ballet dancer who once served only as support to the women.In 1961 he...

 and Zizi Jeanmaire.

Le Jeune Homme et La Mort was revived by Mikhail Baryshnikov
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Mikhail Nikolaevich Baryshnikov is a Soviet and American dancer, choreographer, and actor, often cited alongside Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century. After a promising start in the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad, he defected to Canada in 1974...

 at the American Ballet Theatre in 1975, and in the 1985 movie White Nights, in arrangements by Petit for Baryshnikov. It has been in the repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet
Paris Opera Ballet
The Paris Opera Ballet is the oldest national ballet company in the world, and many European and international ballet companies can trace their origins to it...

 since 1990 and was danced at its premiere there by Kader Belarbi. It has also been danced by the Ballet National de Marseilles (1984), the Berlin Opera Ballet (1985) and the Boston Ballet
Boston Ballet
Boston Ballet, founded in 1963 by E. Virginia Williams, was the first professional repertory ballet company in New England. Boston Ballet’s national and international reputation developed under the leadership of Artistic Directors Violette Verdy , Bruce Marks , and Anna-Marie Holmes...


Original cast

  • Nathalie Philippart

  • Jean Babilée
    Jean Babilée
    Jean Babilée is a prominent French dancer and choreographer of the latter half of the 20th century. He is considered to be one of modern ballet's greatest performers, and the first French dancer to gain international acclaim...

La Scala Ballet, Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Milan, March 2006

  • Darcey Bussell
    Darcey Bussell
    Darcey Andrea Bussell CBE is a retired English ballerina. Trained at the Arts Educational School and the Royal Ballet School, she was later employed by the Royal Ballet, where she was promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer and would become recognised as one of the greatest English ballerinas of...

  • Roberto Bolle
    Roberto Bolle
    Roberto Bolle is an Italian ballet dancer. He is currently a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and also holds guest artist status with The Royal Ballet and La Scala Theatre Ballet, making regular appearances with both companies.- Overview :...

Sadler's Wells, November 2006

  • Darcey Bussell

  • Igor Zelensky

External links

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