Nina Verchinina, 85, a pioneer in blending classical ballet with modern dance. The Russian-born dancer, who had continued dancing and teaching ballet until the end of her life, was known for her emotional yet technically flawless style. Brought up in Shanghai and Paris, Verchinina decided to become a dancer as a child when she watched women acrobats in a circus. She danced with the Ballets Russes in the 1930s and was cast in major roles by choreographer Leonide Massine in the monumental ballets "Les Presages" and "Choreartium." In 1946, she moved to Brazil as ballet mistress at the Teatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro. On Saturday in Rio of a heart attack.