Violette Verdy is a French ballerina who has worked as a director of dance companies and in other related capacities since her retirement from performing in the late 1970s. Verdy began dance training as a small child and performed with Les Ballets des Champs-Elysées beginning in 1945. She went on to dance with Les Ballets de Paris, the London Festival Ballet, La Scala, Milan, and the American Ballet Theatre. She spent most of her career as a principal dancer in the New York City Ballet. While with NYCB, Balanchine created many roles for Verdy, including Emeralds, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, La Source and Sonatine.
Upon her retirement from NYCB, she became the director of the Paris Opera Ballet and codirector of the Boston Ballet in 1980. She is currently a Distinguished Professor of Music and holds the Kathy Z Anderson Chair in Ballet at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Bloomington, Indiana and Artistic Advisor to the Rock School for Dance Education.
Verdy was awarded the French Legion of Honour by Thierry Fouquet, Director General of the Opera of Bordeaux, in a private ceremony at the Paris Opéra on June 15th, 2009.