News just in: death of Margot Fonteyn's discreet lover

News just in: death of Margot Fonteyn's discreet lover


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2011

He was the dancer she fled to when post-War England grew too austere, and he gave the great ballerina indelible lessons in love.

Roland Petit, whose death was announced today, aged 87, was a 1949 refuge for Fonteyn from domestic fame and insular taste. He was only her second lover, after the composer/conductor Constant Lambert, and he transformed her outward appearance during their affaire.

He dressed her at Maison Dior and persuaded her to get a nose job. ‘In Margot’s life, I was just the right person who, at the right time, opened the door,’ he said, far too modestly (I quote him in my book, Covent Garden: The Untold Story, p, 117). Months later, she took America by storm.

Petit created 176 choreographies and left a memoir, J’ai dansé sur les flots. He was a quiet giant of his genre.

See here for dance video.

Petit (r), with Nureyev and Fonteyn (Scala Archives)


  • Drew Lewis says:

    Sad to hear of his death. He headed, of course, a famous Paris-based dance company that toured Britain in the 1950s. I recall seeing his company in London performing Jean-Michel Damase’s ‘Piège de Lumière’ and Dutilleux’s ‘Le Loup’ – a superb score that Dutilleux has suppressed, in my view foolishly and selfishly.

  • Agatha says:

    Don t be sad Drew… He will live in our hearts and his cultural heritage will shine on Stage for ever. Thanks to his dancers like Eric Vu An who pays tribute in a few days in Nice Opera House. This trio (on the pic above)seen on TV in the 60 s pushed me to dance !

  • Drew Lewis says:

    Thanks, Agatha. Yes, his work is immortal.

  • Agatha says:

    Hi Drew !
    My last post (with my French accent !!!) Two years ago, I met Alberto Testa in Positano ,where a Dance Festival is held every Sept (the1rst) since 1949 ! I simply asked Noureev s friend if the lack of choreographers would sign the end of Dance(?) He was really upset !

    PS : try to go there, it s a nice place (I threw a rose ashore Noureev s island)