Goodbye to One of Ballet's Greats

This weekend, the ballet world lost one of its best. Yvonne Mounsey, director of Westside Ballet in Santa Monica, California, passed away at age 93. Mounsey started her career at 20 with Colonel de Basil's Ballet Russes. While the company was on their U.S. tour in 1940-41, she met George Balanchine, who later asked her to join New York City Ballet. However, Mounsey's greatest impact on the ballet world may have come later, as a teacher and director at Westside, where she produced such talents as Melissa Barak, Kylee Kitchens, Monique Meunier, Jock Soto, Andrew and Francis Veyette, among dozens of others. She even assisted one of her former students, Robin Gardenhire, with Gardenhire's City Ballet of Los Angeles School, offering support and scholarships to inner city students. "You know," she told me a couple of years ago, "I want to help out, especially children who need to dance and don’t have the money. One has to help. It’s such a lovely thing to be able to dance, to do ballet."