Yvonne Mounsey, founder of the prominent Westside School of Ballet, died at age 93 on Saturday.
During the 1950s, Mounsey assumed major roles for famed choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins in the New York City Ballet. She was with the company from 1948 to 1958, and rose from soloist to principal dancer.
Mounsey died of cancer at home in Los Angeles, her daughter, Allegra Clegg, told The New York Times.
The dancer is perhaps best known for her role in Balanchine's "Prodigal Son" where she played Siren. She became the role's first classic interpreter on American soil. Mounsey also performed in Balanchine's "Seranade" as the Dark Angel and in "The Four Temperaments."
Additionally, the South African-born Mounsey created many solo roles for Balanchine in "La Valse" and "Swan Lake," among many more.
For Robbins, 6-foot-tall Mounsey created roles such as the Queen in 1951's "The Cage" and the Harp in 1953's "Fanfare, among others.
Born in 1919, Mounsey began dancing at age seven, taking lessons from a former member of famous ballerinas from Anna Pavlova's company. Mounsey's career went on to take her around the world, including England, where she danced with various companies such as the famed Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. After, she headed to New York City in 1940.
It was while Mounsey was dancing with the original Ballet Russe when Balanchise noticed her in New York, and created a part for her in his 1941 "Balustrade."
After many years in New York, Mounsey moved to Los Angeles in 1966, where she founded the Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica. The school went on to become one of the most influential ballet centers in Southern California. Her pupils have included leading American dancers such as Jock Soto, Andrew Veyette and Tiler Peck.
On Twitter, many of Mounsey's fans posted their grief over her death.
"Rest in Peace, dear Yvonne Mounsey," wrote Julia. "I fell in love with dance because of you. Thank you for teaching me."
Amanda posted, "Heaven just got a little more lovely. RIP Yvonne Mounsey."
Mounsey leaves behind her daughter, stepsons Stephen and Christopher Clegg, and a grandson.