As we honor the life of Violette Verdy, you are invited to leave your thoughts and remembrances. Please scroll to the bottom of this page to place your comments.

62 thoughts on “Remembrances

  1. Jessica Lassiter

    My heart is heavy with the news. But my spirit is light with the memory of your smile and sprite. You were truly one of a kind and the best teacher and mentor any young dancer could ask for.

    J’espère que vous dansez avec les anges, toujours une étoile formidable!

  2. Lauren Fadeley

    So sad to have lost such a light today. Violette Verdy was one of the most spirited, inspired and humble people I have ever met and the true definition of what it means to be ballerina. Feel so fortunate to have had her as a teacher and mentor during my time at Indiana University and to have worked with her on such ballets like Sonatine, Tsch Pas and Emeralds that were choreographed for her by George Balanchine himself. Such a selfless person, she always wanted you to be you and to just enjoy the gift of dance. The last time I saw Violette a few years ago, she gave me her book as a gift and said I was a ballerina now; something I could never have achieved without her. You will be greatly missed, but your beauty will live on forever. Thank you for everything.

  3. Becky Erhart Moore

    Violette Verdy,
    Thank you for showing me what true passion is, not just for ballet, but for life. Your vivacity, exuberance, and wisdom played a huge part in shaping me as a dancer and a person. Your voice will be with me always (as well as your pas de cheval and pirouette combinations, which I give to my students to this day). You will live on through the many people that you inspired!

    1. Ellen Schipper

      A great teacher’s teacher with a happy personality and always ready to share her knowledge and passion for ballet with others. With fond memories!

  4. Lyn Ellen Burkett

    I played piano for Violette’s classes once a week while I was working on my dissertation. I soon learned that if I arrived at the studio early, she would tell me the most fascinating stories of working on Webern’s music with Balanchine. It was such a joy to work with her! She was a treasure to the world of dance, and an inspiration to so many beyond the world of dance.

    Lyn Ellen Burkett
    Ph.D. Music Theory 2001

  5. Brenner Brown

    My heart is aching. More than anything, Violette Verdy knew what it meant to love. Love poured out of her beautiful soul. She looked at you–REALLY looked at you–with those gorgeous bright eyes and she listened. When you were with her, you were the most important thing to her at that moment. She made all students feel special, beautiful, and important. Thank you Violette for your love and kindness, your laughter and beauty!

  6. Cory Andrew Faust

    The world lost a true light today, for she was mine for 16 years. I had the honor and privilege of being Ms. Verdys (Ms.V’s) assistant before I went in the Military and then again and her driver when I came back from Afghanistan. I remember she was there to send me off to war from her house and then she was there with open arms when I came back. She was my rock and new me better than anyone. She was my best friend and my family. She helped make me into the person I am today. I will always miss and cherish her smile and warm hugs. She was the kindest, warmest, humble, person I have ever met in my life. I will miss and love you Always Ms.V

    1. Brenner Brown

      Praying for peace for you Cory. You are especially blessed by her love. Thank you for your service and for your words here.

    2. John Landeroz


      Thank you for your service and thank you for being their with Ms. Violette during her time in Bloomington. When she first moved to Bloomington she had a Taxi Service pick her up everyday to get her to the MAC for class. I stayed that summer and drove her around town to run errands with her, she loved Blooming Food at the time…and we spent what would seem like hours there. I would go to her brand new house and help her move boxes, and unpack boxes and other odds and ends. I got to experience a little of both worlds, outside of the studio and in the studio. I never stopped thinking of her when I left IU in 1998 and wish I could have seen her once again and was hoping to do so at this year’s Spring Show. My heart is broken.

  7. Alison Trumbull

    Words are like jewels that live in the heart and soul, and remain as memories years after they have been spoken. REST IN PEACE Violette Verdy. I will never forget your mentoring, how you inspired my career as a ballet dancer and as a young women. From your experience, expertise, and care for me as an individual you awoke in me my true talent. Most of my success in ballet and confidence in my best self I owe to you! (Jacobs School of Music Class of 2010)

  8. Hernan Justo

    Those who have the privilege and the honor to met her will never forget her. Is a sad day for me and my family. meet and work with her Violette was I highlight in my life

  9. Marina Harss

    I was so honored and happy and moved to meet Violette last year and spend time with her as I wrote a profile about her for The Nation. She made one feel special just by being in the room with her. Her gentleness and wit have no equal.

    1. Brenner Brown

      I read your profile for the first time last night, Marina, and you captured her so beautifully and perfectly. It was so comforting to read it. Thank you for your graceful writing.

  10. Abby Kahn Gadbaw

    Violette was one of a kind and I feel so lucky to have trained from her for my 4 years at IU. She had a way of making every student feel loved and special no matter what. She did that for me and I will forever be grateful for her kindness, guidance and love. I cherish the lessons I learned from her and carry her little sayings with me always. What a legend the world has lost.

  11. Vicki King

    It was such a joy for me to play the piano for Violette’s ballet classes. I especially loved finding special French music to play in her class. She would run over to the piano and say, “What is that music? I love that music,” I would say, “it’s Faure.” “Oooo, I love Faure.” She always took a special interest in the music so that it was exactly right for the dancers. She was so musical herself, and told me that she had studied piano and violin as a child. She said, “you know, Mr. B played the piano very well, and would play the most complicated music for us.” The Jacobs School of Ballet dancers are richer from having worked with her. She was a treasure beyond price. She was a light in the room–a ray of sunshine. For those who knew and loved her, she will never die. She will live on in her students and what she taught them. They, in turn, will pass it forward, just as Mr. B did for her.

  12. Dan Allcott

    Conducting ballet for Violette at IU was a defining moment for me. The light she brought in to a room warmed us all.

  13. Cynthia Harvey

    Violette was one of a kind. An advocate of dance who lit up the room when she appeared.
    I feel particularly blessed to have met her. She gave me my first Ford Foundation Scholarship and many years later supported the concept of my foundation, En Avant Foundation, by accepting to be part of my advisory committee. Her support was all I needed to get the foundation off the ground. Her email to me was heartfelt and generous. I only regret that she was unable to coach for me.
    En Avant Foundation and I wish to send our condolences to Indiana University and honor Violette by continuing our work. Her musicality and love of ballet were apparent in her performances and in everything she did. How fortunate we were all to have had Violette in our lives.

  14. Heidi Rood

    A beautiful soul and wonderful artist. Always cheerful and full of life. Working with her are some of my favourite memories as a dancer.

  15. Ashley Sutherland-Winch

    Dearest Violette had the most magnanimous spirit and zest for life! I had the pleasure of working with Violette in 2004-2005 while I was the graduate assistant athletic trainer for the Ballet Department. Violette was always so positive, kind and happy and I truly think of her most days as I try to emulate her attitude. She will be greatly missed but she passes on truly loved and admired.

  16. Brian Nystedt

    We are incredibly saddened to learn of the death of Violette Verdy. Yesterday the world lost a beautiful and exquisite ballerina. Yesterday we lost Violette, our charming and delightful friend.
    Requiescant in pace ‪‎Violette

  17. Nina Starner

    I was privileged to take a few classes with Violette when she was a guest teacher at the Rock School, formerly of the Pennsylvania Ballet. She was a kind, generous and incredible teacher, and I’m honored that I got to meet and work with her, however briefly.

  18. Kimberly Dunning

    I remember working with Violette on her dossier to become a Distinguished Professor. She would light up the room when she entered. She was always so graceful and gracious. She was very humble. I asked her to gather her work into different categories that we could then put into the book. She brought in scrapbooks of the most wonderful items. Pictures of her dancing at the White House and practicing with Mikhail Baryshnikov, she said I know I haven’t done that much but maybe!!! I looked at her in wonder, this tiny woman, so humble. She was just amazing! We would sit on the floor in Merrill Hall and go through the items, at the end of our session she bounced up and said fabulous, I could barely bend to get to my knees and stand. She will be sorely missed but greatly remembered.

  19. Mary Michelle Yager

    My remembrance of Madame Verdy is so special. I was working on my doctoral document and found research that she had the most incredible firsthand knowledge of and even though I was a singer and not a dancer, she made a special time in the evening to talk with me about my research, and this soprano will be forever blessed by a conversation including topics of Nijinsky, Massine, Balanchine, Boris Kochno, Diaghilev, Milhaud, Chanel, and Cole Porter. Madame Verdy was so kind and interested in my research and I am so humbled that she gave me that kind of time because she was the best and there will never be another Violette Verdy.

  20. Sarah S.

    I’ve had the pleasure of working with Violette several times over the last decade and she was always warm, kind, funny, and so easy to talk to. She was a bright light, a sparkling “gem” of a person…beautiful, inside and out. Her love for her craft and for her students is apparent in the beauty and grace that they carry forth in their lives. My heart is with all of you.

    Requiescant in pace, dear Violette…

  21. Pablo Sanchez

    Rest in Peace Mme. Violette Verdy. The Ballet Dept had a party for her 75th Birthday in the Mezzanine of the MAC and she was so pleased to be with us, and of course the dancers were always always amazed to be in her presence. She thanked us for thinking of her on her birthday because every person wants to love and be loved. I’ll always remember this moment. Class of 2010.

  22. Ellen

    I was writing a paper for a course I took on Balanchine in college and it occurred to me — maybe I could interview Violette Verdy! It seemed like a long shot, but I found her IU email and sent her a note. And she responded! She gave me a phone number to call, which I did, and we had a round of phone tag that resulted in a voicemail from her, in her lilting accent — “Allo, Ellen, it’s Violette!” I saved the voicemail, of course! I was so touched that she would take the time to talk to me, a student from another school, who she’d never met. That says so much about her generosity. I hope that someday I can do the same for a student. Although I never met her in person, I was honored to have spoken with her.

  23. Kathryn Levy

    I was lucky enough to see her extraordinary dancing, and after her retirement, to watch her inspring and rigorous teaching. And in my years at NYCB, where I worked on the administrative and educational side, I had several opportunities to discover how witty, generous and intelligent she was. Often after someone dies people say extravagant things about them. Really, no praise is high enough for Violette. She was one of a kind. We have lost a rare spirit. I’m terribly sad.

  24. Carrie Friedrich Gaerte

    Thank you so much, Violette, for your energy, enthusiasm, encouragement, and effervescent personality. I am still in awe of you and feel unbelievably fortunate to have studied under you while at IU. You will be missed by so many, but your spirit will be forever present in our memories and feelings of you. Thank you a million times over!

  25. Scott

    Dear beautiful Violette, I am saddened to hear of your passing. You lived such an amazing life and gave so much to so many. While I never had occasion to dance, we were acquainted through your friends at the JSM. You were beloved and so incredibly kind, even to one who virtually nothing about dance and ballet. You gave freely of your time, your wisdom, your generous spirit.

    Au revoir, Violette, Au revoir les mon ami

  26. Lydia Brown Finkelstein

    Having seen Violette dance with the NYC Ballet many times in the l950s I was astounded to learn she was now living in Bloomington and
    teaching at IU. I had become president of the local chapter of the National Society of Arts & Letters and our national contest that
    year (can’t remember exact one) was Ballet with a substantial award to the student winner. I contacted Violette and asked her if
    she would speak to our group about ballet and the importance of this recognition for the student dancers from IU. She agreed
    immediately, and enthusiastically, to speak. That day she literally charmed every person in the room with her graciousness,
    wit, and sparkling personality. She then worked extensively with her IU dancers to prepare them for what was probably their first
    national competition. As a result several NSAL members have become donors and supporters to IU’s wonderful ballet
    program. She truly was a treasure and loved everywhere.

  27. Dori Goldstein Rothschild

    I feel so incredibly privledged to have had Violette as a teacher for 4 years at IUBT. She was beyond a teacher , she was a mentor and a friend . Her love for ballet was contagious. The moment she stepped into the studio the room had a magic to it . One of the many things that I was so impressed with is whenever I would ask her to come in and give a class during summer break, the answer was always yes . Violette wanted the best for her students and went above and beyond for us. I will miss you beautiful Violette!

  28. Terri Lee Port

    I was so fortunate to be in New York City Ballet at the same time as Violette. It is hard to put into words the effect that Violette had on my career and many others. Watching her perform for over 10 years from the wings and out front changed our styles, our hearts and I would say our appreciation for nuance. Every movement was not scripted it was divined. I was fortunate to see her at PNB last year when she was working on Emeralds.I got to briefly reconnect with her. I feel so happy that I could hug her and relish in that amazing smile and joie de vivre. It all came back. How she tried to teach them to hold and move their hands, their heads, understand the timing, to move through the music etc. She will be missed but the memories linger and watching videos will bring back all that was “Violette”. RIP.

  29. Amy

    I was not personally acquainted with Violette, but having danced for a very long time in my life I was so pleasantly surprised to find out that Violette Verdy was here at IU training students. What a gift to the students here, and to all who got to see them perform under her tutelage!

  30. Kara Yoo Leaman

    I just presented a paper today (Hartt School Music Theory Colloquium) on a role that Professor Verdy originated — Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux. I am so saddened to learn of her passing. Her solo variation in Tschai Pas is a masterpiece in which Balanchine took full advantage of her extraordinary musicality and effervescence. And that is only one among so many roles she danced exquisitely. I am thankful for her generosity in spending time with me a few years ago during my visit to IU. Besides her marvelous stories, I remember her graciousness.

  31. Sarah Mandonnet-Davison

    Violette Verdy was uniquely wonderful. She had such a “joie de vivre” and love for dance and dancers!
    I was lucky to have been able to take her classes and dance her choreography at the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Danse in Marseille and the Conservatoire National Superieur in Lyon between 1993 and 1997. She was generous and attentive, but knew how to get the work done! I have never met another teacher and human being like Violette Verdy. Working with her on Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco” and “Who cares?” were definite highlights in my dancing days. I am forever grateful of her teachings in dance and life and hope that I can be a 10th of the woman she was one day. Fly high, Violette, the stars are lucky to have you!

  32. Stuart

    Electrifying performance of Balanchine’s 2nd act Swan Lake one stormy summer matinée in Saratoga Springs New York.
    An Odette I shall NEVER forget !!!

  33. Sarah Wroth

    There are not enough words to create the perfect expression of my admiration for Violette Verdy. She shaped my whole life and I can, without hesitation, say that my professional dance career would not have existed if it wasn’t for her. College is a trying time of self discovery. Violette had this way of compassionately forming just the right analogy to make all the problems of life seem as simple as the food we eat everyday. Her patience and generosity were boundless and every person lucky enough to have met her felt the absolute joy she embodied. She should be honored in every way possible for her life’s dedication to a powerfully passionate art. I will miss her so much. We all will.

  34. Diana White

    Dear Beautiful Young Dancers at the Jacobs School of Music,
    I know how difficult it is to lose a teacher, idol, mentor, and friend. I also know that you, as very young dancers, have received from Violette the distillation of the wisdom that she had accumulated for over 80 years… She has shared with you the essence of her childhood dreams, her brilliant career as a ballerina, and then her experience with the 20th century geniuses of dance, and beyond that, her perspective as a director, teacher, choreographer, and coach.
    As with Mr.Balanchine in his final years, the last teachings are essential. Every single word and memory that you have of Violette and the stories and teachings that she shared with you are important. You must cherish those memories as you mature as dancers. Write them down and then pass them on when you become teachers yourselves. That is your calling, as it was hers. Carry on! She would be depending on you!

    1. Michael Byars

      Diana has it exactly right. Write down everything you can remember about your time with her, and it will be time well spent. And look up Violette’s obituary in the New York Times (if you haven’t already), which provides amazing details about her background and the experiences she brought with her to the studio. She once described Mr. B to me as being the “full package” when referring to his multitude of talents, her point being that no matter how much appreciation I had for Mr. B there was always something more. Well, what a “package” she brought with her to every class and every conversation. Nearly twenty years after I stopped performing and moved into a different profession, I still hear her voice and am grateful for her example and guidance. As Diana says, Violette was generous with her own talents and spirit — best wishes to you as you continue that legacy.

  35. irina Ter- grigoryan

    It is take for me hours to realize: Violette is gone . I will never again come to play your amazing class or rehearsal and receive your warm hug after. I will miss your bright blue eyes,your tender “Irinochka”, your funny russian songs,that you was singing surprisingly with no accent at all .The joy ,that you gave to all us who was working with you on rehearsal,will be remember. Your fascinating ability to show movement,that sound in silence as music. Your arabesque is a high note ! And I never forget vision of your dancing arms in rehearsal of G Faure “Emeralds “. Eternal love and memory my dear Violette.

  36. The Raymond Family

    My family and I never had the opportunity to meet or even communicate with Mme. Verdy, but our lives were touched by her nonetheless. My teenage daughter is an aspiring ballet dancer and “discovered” the amazing Mme. Verdy only about six months ago when someone spoke of her at a summer intensive. She was immediately enthralled and watched every video and DVD about her that we could find. I had just tonight checked out a few library books for my daughter with quotes from and stories about wonderful Violette. We were just an hour ago having a conversation about her, saying how incredible she was (as a dancer) and still is (as a teacher and mentor). Shortly after, so serendipitously (looking up something completely unrelated on the Internet), I stumbled upon a thread about her passing. Like others have said, she seemed like one of those people who would just go on forever, and I had hoped that one day my daughter, who looks up to her as a role model and one of her absolutely favorite dancers, would somehow get to meet her. We’re so happy for those who did. She was such an inspiration to and supporter of young dancers. Very glad she was in the world for as long as she was to share her incredible gifts of ballet (technique and artistry), humility, humor, and generosity. What a beautiful life. Rest in peace, Mme. Verdy.

  37. Jennifer McQuiston Lott

    Charm, wit and effervescence – this was Violette for me. A ballerina like no other, a teacher who cared so much for her students, and gave so generously. It’s amazing to read these wonderful remembrances of Violette – it is so clear that her life was about giving away all that she could. What an example she set, and what a loss, and how blessed are we all to have known her and studied under her. I was so raw when I came to IU. She was kind to me, and helped me so much. I will never forget all of those small classes in the little studio – how lucky we were to have her to ourselves for a while! I wrote down and still use some of her exercises today (and, if anyone else did the same, wouldn’t it be fun to share these?! I’d love to see which ones other people remember… Simple and brilliant).

    Here’s one: “E-e-a-a-ooh, a-uh-uh-uh” (this was a staccato pas de cheval, close, and three degage, accent in, hold…) in 4/4:) I can still hear her voice, all these years later!

    Cher Violette, thank you…

  38. Chunchi

    As a pianist ,I was so lucky to work with you these years. You taught and helped me a lot…. Music, Ballet and Career. I will remember you forever.

  39. Pam Anthony

    As a young dancer in New York City in 1971, I had the great pleasure of meeting La Verdy. It was a very different era then. An even deeper, more vibrant energy pulsed in the city due to the presence and work of Mr. B. And Violette was at the heart of that. We all felt that we could burst with anticipation in the weeks before a Balanchine premiere. New York City Ballet dancers were always in the wings when Violette danced “Emeralds”. The rare, profound knowledge of ballet — of the ethereal — from that time is what Violette (and others) are generously passing on, a treasure that otherwise may be lost. Today we mourn, tomorrow we work, that that knowledge may transform us, as well.
    Vive, La Violette!

  40. Christopher Nachtrab

    My heart is heavy with the recent news of Violette Verdy’s passing. Her classes were filled with so much joy and passion – she not only taught me how to be a better dancer, but how to be a better person. She epitomized grace and humility – and constantly encouraged all of us to to do more than we even thought possible. I will never forget her smile, her bright eyes, her red shoes and her passion for life. Much love always.

  41. Pamela Moberg

    Now it feels like a fairy tale, but it is actually true. Long, long time ago I was in class with Madame Verdy. It happened in London at the Rambert which was then at the Mercury Theatre in Notting Hill Gate. Still to this day I can see her in front of me if I close my eyes – her sheer joy in dancing, her bubbly personality – she made class into something exhilarating – everything else paled in comparison with her. Searched my mind, but cannot remember accurately after all these years – I think it was Eileen Ward who held the class. Truly, a memory to treasure.

  42. Jennifer Sherry

    Thank you Violette for all of the wonderful training, positivity, encouragement and wisdom that you passed on to me and ballet dancers around the world. Being in the presence of Violette at Indiana University (2006-2009) was so powerful and special. I was absolutely in awe of her and how genuinely passionate she was about passing down every bit of knowledge to us through each movement and word she spoke. Having the opportunity to practice one on one with Violette completely changed the way I danced and performed. She was the most encouraging coach and would truly watch and fine tune everything in such a joyful way. She was so kind to me and got me to believe and trust in myself as an artist. She was always smiling and a true inspiration! I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to study under her. She will be missed so very greatly!

  43. Paige Kloski McClenahan

    What an amazing grace. Her presence and lovely dancing were quite an influence on me during the 1960’s and 1970’s. She quest starred at San Francisco Ballet when I was studying the art. A true beauty in the ballet world who will be dearly missed.

  44. Eugene O'Brien

    It was my great fortune to have seen Violette dance with the NYCB many times, starting in 1959 or 1960 at the City Center on W. 55th St. and later at the State Theater, culminating — if it’s even possible to single out just one work — in “Emeralds.” Her grace, style, and musicality were unmatched. How very lucky we are to have had Violette as part of our family for these past twenty years, and how very much we will miss her friendship and inspiring presence.

  45. Victoria Huckenpahler

    Dearest Violette — I was heartbroken to learn the news and can’t believe you’re gone. Anyone with that much life can’t disappear! I’ll never forget those months of working on your book with you, staying in your wonderful NY penthouse, long talks with “Mama,” the incredible meals, and your generosity of spirit.
    I’m so glad we reconnected not long ago, but sad that we didn’t get to see one another again as we had planned.
    I trust, however, that all is well with you, wherever you are. You lived beautifully, though your life was not always an easy one, and you have your Indian guru as your beacon.
    Huck, my son and I will always love you,

  46. Deborah Dobson Kåge

    Dearest Violette,
    I so thought we would meet up in the near future. We are so very sad and at the same time so very thankful for all you have done for us and for the world of ballet. You will be so much in our conversation when Brooke comes to Sweden in a month, it was you who brought us together. You gave me my Ford foundation scholarship at the age of 13. I wonder what path my life would have taken if that had not happened. You are a special and lovely spirit Violette, thank you so very much and may you continue to dance with the stars, now in the heavens!
    all our love,
    Deborah and Jonas

  47. Michael Vernon

    As Chair of the Ballet Department here at IU, I know how heartbroken our dancers are – how keenly we feel the loss of someone so beloved – so wise – so full of life – so positive. Yet we are strengthened by the knowledge that we have been touched by her dignity, her passion and her love of dance. We embrace the fact that she taught us all so much, especially myself, about the magic and the mystery of ballet. We will keep the beacon burning bright, for now we are the keepers of Violette’s flame. As Michael and Diana mention, I have asked all the majors to write down their memories of Violette – her classes, her bon mots, her corrections, and hopefully later on in the semester we will assemble these thoughts into a tangible collection. Maybe even a book. Violette loved assembles! RIP.

  48. Bernadette

    I remember so fondly as a shy fan of NYCB running up to Ms.Verdy to,tell her how much I enjoyed her performance in Swan Lake! We spoke as if we were old friends and as if I were the most important person in the world. Just this year I ordered for a friend and for myself a tape of Ms. Verdy that shows her being interviewed at Catauqua. In it, she smilingly says, “I ask only to be used”. What a great teacher and role model of humility and graciousness. To the staff and students at IU dance department, keep Violette’s memory alive and know she will be watching over you from her well deserved spot in Paradise.

  49. Natalie Williams

    With sadness and love I remember Violette. Her vivacious spirit and zest for life was evident in every moment in her company. She loved everyone around her and was always interested and keen to hear the latest news, the latest dreams, the hopes and progressions that all of her friends and students had made. She reached out to everyone within her warm circle of friends and colleagues and touched them all with her passion for her art. Violette was truly the living embodiment of the consummate artist – giving her utmost in every breath. She will be deeply missed and is much loved. Blessings to her family and friends and all who were blessed with her presence in their lives.


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