Leonide Massine, one of the great choreographers and dancers of 20th century ballet, died Thursday in a hospital here at the age of 82.
Massine, born Leoind Fedorovich Myassin in Moscow, had lived with his wife outside Borken, near the Dutch border, for several years.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, Massine was one of the most celebrated balley artists of pre-World War II Eruope, serving as guest choreographer and artist for dance companies in London, Copenhagen, Paris, Milan and Rome.
He worked with Serge Diaghilev in Paris when the great impresario was creating a new form of ballet before and after World War I, and was principal dancer with Diaghilev's Ballet Russe there.
A dancer with a considerable dramatic gift, Massine was spotted by Diaghilev on a visit to Moscow in 1913, and at the age of 16 was taken to Western Europe. The impresario had decided that the youth should replace the legendary Nijinsky, who was about to leave the company.
A year aftrer joining the Ballet Russe, Massine created the first of over 100 ballet he choreographed in his lifetime, "Soleil di Nuit."
During his early years with Diaghilev, Massine danced with the great Russian ballerinas Tamara Karsavina and Lydia Lopokova.
He took over several of the roles made famous by Nijinsky, including the male leads in "L'Apres-Midi d'Une Faune," "Petrouchka," "Scheherazade" and "Cleopatre." He performed all these roles during a Ballet Russe tour of the United States in 1916.
His all-embracing approach to ballet as an art form he learned from Diaghilev.
Massine wrote in his memoirs, "He (Diaghilev) urged me to study the works of Fra Angelico, Giotto, Uccello and Mantegna, from which, he said, one could learn invaluable lessons in choreoraphic composition.
"At his suggestion, I visited the National Gallery, the Tate and the Wallace Collection (in London), and although my taste was unformed, I began to appreciate the riches displaced there."
Massine met and worked with many outstanding figures in the art world, including the late Pablo Picasso, surrealist painter Salvador Dali, and the composers Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss and Manuel de Falla.
After leaving the Ballet Russe in 1920, Massine founded a ballet school in London, toured South America with his own company and produced ballets for Diaghilev and at New York's Roxy Theater in 1928-29.
In 1932 he became artistic director for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a post he held until 1941, when he moved to New York. During World War II he headed New York's National Ballet Theater from 1941 to 1944.
He returned to Europe after the war and served as artistic director of the Opera Comique of Paris during 1947-51. He had lived for the past 10 years inWest Germany.
Among the achievements that brought him fame were his "symphonic" ballets, created to symphonic works by Berlioz, Beethoven, Shastakovich, Schubert and Haydn.
Two of Massine's ballets have been consistent favorites, "La Boutique Fantasque" and "Tricorne," presented in London when he was only 24.
"Le Tricorne" was revived in London in 1947, in Cologne in 1962, in Vienna in 1965 with Massine dancing on all three occasions, and again in London in 1973.
In 1948, Massine danced the role of the shoemaker in the British ballet film, "Red Shoes," based on Diaghilev's career. He said at the time it brought him more publicity than he had ever had in his life. He also prolduced and appeared in dances for the film, "Tales of Hoffmann" in 1951.
British ballet critic Cyril Beaumont wrote of Massine in his prime: "His movements have a cat-like elegance and sinuousness; his timing of step and gesture is superb; and his personality so vital and compelling that he can force the spectator to follow the least crook of his finger."
In 1968 Massine published his autobiography, "My Life in Ballet," and followd it in 1974 with "Massine on Choreography."
Massine was married three times. The first two marriages, to dancers, ended in divorce. In 1939 he married a third dancer, Tatiana Milishnikova. They had one daughter, Tatiana, and one son, Leonide. His other survivors include two other sons and five grandchildren.