The French dancer passed away on Monday (08Feb16) in Bloomington, Indiana following a brief illness, according to the New York Times.

Verdy, real name Nelly Armande Guillerm, began dancing at the age of eight in 1942 and made her professional debut in 1945.

In 1949, she was cast in German cinema director Ludwig Berger's film Ballerina. Following the release of the film in the U.S., Verdy joined the American Ballet Theater in 1957 and the New York City Ballet in 1958.

She went on to work with famous choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins and appeared in several productions, including Emeralds, Dances at a Gathering and In the Night.

In 1977, she became the first female artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, but returned to America in 1980 to serve as an associate director and artistic director of the Boston Ballet.

Verdy was awarded France's highest decoration, the medal of Chevalier dans l'Ordre de la Legion d'Honneur, in 2008.