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Elle Fanning Mourns Late Dance Teacher: ‘My Second Mother’

Fanning posted a heartfelt tribute to her ballet instructor Wendy Lawson, whom she said she considered “family”
CANNES, FRANCE – MAY 23: Elle Fanning attends the 70th Anniversary of the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 23, 2017 in Cannes, France. Elle Fanning is mourning the death of her beloved ballet teacher, Wendy Lawson. The Great actress, 24, took to Instagram on Saturday to post a long and heartfelt tribute to her late instructor, revealing to fans just how close their bond had been. “I have never met anyone more elegant and full of strength. You fought until your last breath,” Fanning wrote. “You are my family. My second mother.”

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“The lessons and wisdom you instilled in me I know I am still yet to even discover,” she added. “We were your students, but more importantly we were your children. It far exceeded just teaching ballet.” “I hope to always make you proud, and I will continue to make decisions in my life you will be proud of. You are my fairy angel now, guiding me,” Fanning concluded. “I would be nothing without you.” The sentiments were accompanied by a slideshow of personal photos showing Lawson over the years — including two with Fanning herself.

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The cause of Lawson’s death was not disclosed. A bio on Los Angeles County High School for the Arts’ website described her as a classically trained ballet dancer who had been on staff since 2006, with an extensive resume in film and television as both a choreographer and performer. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Fanning received her first-ever Emmy nomination for her work on Hulu’s The Great last July. In the acclaimed series, which premiered in May 2020, she portrays a fictional version of Catherine the Great, Empress of All Russia opposite Nicholas Hoult’s Peter III of Russia.

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