Renée (called Zizi) Jeanmaire was born in Paris in 1924. She studied at the Paris Opera School from 1933 and entered the company in 1939. Although she had a brilliant classical technique she never fitted the ballerina mould and left POB in 1944. Her style was perfect for the exuberant and glamorous choreography of Roland Petit. She joined his company, Petit's Ballets de Paris, in 1948. She created many roles for Petit, the far most famous was the title role in Carmen (1949). She also created Roxane in his Cyrano de Bergerac (1959). From the 1950's she focused her career on film and cabaret.