Indiana University

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Last modified: Friday, October 8, 2010

IU Jacobs School of Music announces endowed chair in ballet

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Oct. 8, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music has received the gift of an endowment to support the first faculty chair position in its ballet department, Dean Gwyn Richards announced today (Oct. 8). The inaugural recipient of the Kathy Ziliak Anderson Chair in Ballet is Distinguished Professor Violette Verdy.

"The Andersons' gift is a 35th anniversary present from Kathy and her husband, Gary, and is the first faculty chair in classical ballet in our nation," Richards said. "It is a reflection of the impact this family is having on our university, the love these two people have for each other, Kathy's love for ballet, her fondness of ballet at IU and her admiration for all that Violette stands for in the field."

"I am unimaginably delighted to be associated forever with the art of ballet through the endowment of this chair in ballet to the Jacobs School of Music," said Anderson. "It is particularly moving for me that the first person to be named to hold this position is Violette Verdy, my friend and inspiration. Ms. Verdy's superlative standing in the world of ballet is only eclipsed by her uplifting spiritual presence -- the joy she brings to each present moment."

The chair is given to a masterful artist in the field of ballet, providing the Jacobs School with exemplary opportunities to achieve the highest artistic levels. In addition to having had a notable career as a performer or choreographer, the recipient is considered to be a superbly effective teacher, furthering the goals of the department.

"The whole ballet department is so grateful to the Andersons, as I am sure the university is, for their visionary and unprecedented gesture in recognizing ballet in this way," said Verdy. "Ballet, in its celestial architecture, is intertwined with great classical music. I also think about the generations of teachers and pianists who have built, slowly but surely, where we are today -- unbroken continuity and succession. I am deeply honored to be considered a part of this continuum."

"It is such a compliment for the Jacobs School, in general, and this department, in particular, to be recognized for the highest level of teaching and coaching that such an honor implies," said Michael Vernon, chair of the Ballet Department. "That Violette is an internationally recognized icon in the field of ballet has been known for many years in the field. The creation of this chaired position speaks volumes for IU and the new standards and goals that this department is striving to achieve."

"The Jacobs School of Music is a national treasure of academic excellence, and our family recognizes the need and obligation to support this excellence for future generations," said Anderson.

About Violette Verdy

A leading ballerina of the 20th century, Distinguished Professor Violette Verdy was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet for 20 years and performed as a guest principal artist with major companies in America and Europe, such as the Metropolitan Opera in New York; the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden; the Paris Opera Ballet; and the Stuttgart, Munich, and Hamburg ballets. During her career, she premiered the title role in Birgit Culberg's Miss Julie at American Ballet Theater and, upon joining New York City Ballet, George Balanchine created many roles for her, including ones in Liebeslieder Walzer, Episodes, Jewels, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Glinkaiana, Sonatine, La Source, Pulcinella and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Jerome Robbins also crafted roles for Verdy in Dances at a Gathering, In the Night and Beethoven Pas de Deux.

Verdy is the former artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet and Boston Ballet, and she has taught and choreographed for dance companies and schools throughout the world, including New York City Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, The Australian Ballet Company, The Royal Danish Ballet, The Ballet of Teatro alla Scala, Hamburg Ballet, and The Bolshoi Ballet Company, where she was the first outside female teacher invited since 1917. Verdy has been the subject of two biographies: Ballerina by Victoria Huckenpahler and Violette Verdy by Dominique Delouche and Florence Poudru; and of three documentaries: Violette, A Life in Dance, Violette et Mr. B. and Violette Verdy: The Artist Teacher at Chautauqua Institution. Verdy has published children's literature, has appeared on stage, on film, and was featured on British, French, Canadian, and American television.

Violette Verdy is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, mostly notably the French medals Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'honneur (2009) and Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres (1973), and she holds honorary doctorates from Goucher College, Boston Conservatory and Skidmore College. On two separate occasions in 1976, President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford invited her to dance at the White House and the Capitol, and just last year, the School of American Ballet honored her with the Mae L. Wien Faculty Award for Distinguished Service.

Currently, Verdy serves as artistic advisor to the Rock School of Ballet, Philadelphia, and as principal guest teacher to the School of American Ballet, New York City.

To learn more about the IU Jacobs School of Music, go to

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