Ballet legend Verdy dies


Ballet professor Violette Verdy stretches on a barre Feb. 10, 2009, at the Musical Arts Center. Verdy, a native of France, received the Kathy Ziliak Anderson Chair in Ballet. File photo Buy Photos

Violette Verdy, a distinguished professor and successful ballet dancer, died Monday at age 82.

Verdy, who joined the ballet faculty in the Jacobs School of Music in 1996, spent nearly two decades as a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. During her career, according to a release, Verdy performed with more than 50 companies at venues from the Paris Opera to the White House.

In 1977, the French dancer was the first woman to become artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, and she later served as the artistic director of the Boston Ballet.

Verdy became a distinguished professor in 2005 and was awarded the IU President’s Medal for Excellence in 2013.

Among other awards she received were two medals from the French government — Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1971 and Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur in 2009 — and awards from the School of American Ballet.

She also made several appearances in film and on television and was a published children’s book author.

“Dancing makes me feel like those wonderful, little mountain goats,” Verdy told the IDS in 2010. “They borrow the same tracks their ancestors have used for centuries. You adapt to what the steps require and you climb the mountain.”

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