The Ballet World Mourns the Loss of Violette Verdy

February 8, 2016

The Indiana University dance community, and the ballet world in general, is mourning the loss of legendary ballerina Violette Verdy. Verdy, one of the 20th century’s ballet icons and a member of IU’s faculty since 1996, passed away yesterday at the age of 82.

Verdy’s extraordinary career included 20 years as a New York City Ballet principal (after being invited to join the company by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein), performances of over 100 ballets and stints as artistic director of Paris Opera Ballet and Boston Ballet.

Violette Verdy performed with over 50 companies in her lifetime. (via Indiana University)

She performed on the major stages of the world including Palais Garnier, La Scala, Bolshoi Theatre, Mariinsky Theatre, Metropolitan Opera and the White House (by invitation of President Gerald Ford). She also worked with over 50 different choreographers and had some of ballet’s most iconic pieces created especially for her: Roland Petit’s Le LoupJerome RobbinsDances at a Gathering and Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Jewels, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and more.

Verdy in “Emeralds” from George Balanchine’s Jewels in 1967 (photo by Martha Swope, via Indiana University)

“She lit our world, as she did the world of ballet, moving with such joy and imagination, teaching with such passion and living a life in such an engaged way,” says Gwyn Richards, the dean of IU’s Jacobs School of Music.

Verdy with George Balanchine and Edward Villella at a Pulcinella rehearsal in 1972. (via Indiana University)

She will be deeply missed.

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