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French choreographer wins top Russian culture award
June 10, 2003

French choreographer Roland Petit received the Russian State prize for his ballet "Queen of Spades", based on a Pushkin novella, mounted for Moscow's Bolshoi theatre.

"I have worked with the Russians since I was a child, and they have been kind enough towards the end of my life to so much appreciate this ballet made for them," the 79-year-old choreographer told AFP Tuesday.

Receiving the award in the Kremlin, Petit told President Vladimir Putin in Russia: "Thank you very much, I love you."

Petit is the first foreign artist to receive the prize awarded annually for "remarkable and original works contributing to the development of Russian culture."

"Queen of Spades", created in 2001 and danced to the music of Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" symphony earlier this year won the prestigious "Golden Mask" award for best ballet.

Its star dancers, Nikolai Tsiskaridze and Ilze Liepa, shared the State prize with Petit.

Petit said he planned other projects at the Bolshoi which he was to discuss later Tuesday with the theatre's management.

"I have too many ideas and don't know which one to choose," he said.

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