PARIS -- Ludmila Tcherina, who rose to early stardom as a French ballerina and became an actress and artist,
died Sunday. She was 79.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
Born in Paris of a Russian aristocrat father and French mother, Ms. Tcherina made her name as a youth. At age 15, she became a prima ballerina with the Grands Ballets of Monte Carlo.
Under the pseudonym of "Tcherzina," she was the youngest prima ballerina in the history of dance, French Culture Minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon said in a statement, saluting her career.
In 1970, near the end of a decades-long career, she dazzled Paris audiences with her performance in "Jeanne au Bucher" ("Joan of Arc at the Stake").
A painter since her youth, Ms. Tcherina held exhibitions in capitals around the world. She painted and danced in an exhibition at the Pompidou Center in Paris to reveal her theory of "total art," in which all aspects are born of breathing and movement.
Her website says she acted in 18 films. Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin praised her as "an essential figure of French art in the 20th century."