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French Ballerina Violette Verdy Gave Her Last Graceful Exit at 82, Died February 8

By eufemia abadiano on Feb 11, 2016 10:41 AM EST

Multiple award-winning ballerina Violette Verdy was pronounced dead at 82 on February 8 in Bloomingdale, Indiana. The cause of death has not been released as yet. The whole dance community mourns for the loss of one of the most treasured and renowned artists the world has witnessed.

She was born Nelly Armande Guillerm in 1933 in France. Since she was 8 years old, ballet has been the center of her young life. Only a few months after her birth, her father died and she was left in her mother’s care. Later, and in the middle of the German occupation, her mother decided to leave for Paris in order to nurture the goal she had for her only child, to properly learn the art of dancing.

The next 20 years of her professional career as a ballerina was highlighted when she joined and performed alongside well-distinguished choreographer and co-founder of New York City Ballet, George Balanchine. During the years of working closely with Balanchine, Verdy was able to fully develop her dancing talent and became the ultimate example of a legendary Balanchine dancer.

She had succeeded in getting Balanchine’s attention despite the initial impression of being an unlikely hire since he mostly preferred long-limbed, athletic-built dancers. In contrast, she once playfully called herself "a little French poodle" in a documentary.

Violette Verdy's internationally acclaimed artistic contribution in the ballet community was recognized through the various awards she had received over the years of her performing career. To top it all, she was presented the very prestigious Order of Arts and Letters award by the French government in 1973. She also received France’s highest decorated medal, the Chevalier dans l'Ordre de la Legion d'Honneur in 2008.

After suffering a series of dance-related injuries, the French ballerina’s fruitful dancing years ended in 1977. She was 43 years old when she retired. She began to focus on her role in Paris Opera Ballet as the first female artistic director. After landing on numerous teaching and choreography programs, her passion as a teacher grew. She finally devoted her time and experience at the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana University, Bloomington as a distinguished Professor of Music.

Violette Verdy will be remembered not just for her accomplishments as one of the most treasured ballerinas of her time. She was also a devoted teacher, writer and a true epitome of grace that have set such a great example to her students.

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TagsViolette Verdy, Nelly Armande Guillerm, George Balanchine

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