Léonide Massine was one of the most talented choreographers of all time. While he is most well-known for his story ballets, his symphonic ballets brought forth the neo-classical style a decade before Balanchine. In his early years, he was the star of the Ballets Russes which often toured the U.S. In the Boston Sunday Herald dated January 28, 1916, the critic proclaimed that "To Léonide Massine, one of the younger men of the troupe, will fall most of the parts that had been allotted to Nijinsky. Massine is young, slender, graceful, and skilled. All the tricks and feats of his art seem very simple when done by him, for his ease is such that one fails to see any difficulty in anything he does." Massine also choreographed 17 ballets for Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. His Rite of Spring was restaged in 1930 with Martha Graham in the lead role. He created the choreography for nine films including the immortal Red Shoes with Moira Shearer, Tales of Hoffmann, Neapolitan Carousel with Sophia Loren, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Gina Lollobrigida and Anthony Quinn.
He developed a system of dance notation and wrote two books: My Life in Ballet and Massine on Choreography. In November 2002, he was posthumously inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame. The Annual Premio Positano, created in 1969, was renamed the Positano Premia La Danza Léonide Massine in 1979 and was combined with the Prix Benois in 2015 to become the Prix Benois-Massine Moscow-Positano.