Famous 20th Century Ballet Dancers

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Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Ballet Dancers

 1 
Mikhail Baryshnikov
(Choreographer, Dance)

Mikhail Baryshnikov
9
Birthdate: January 27, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Riga, Latvia

Latvian-born Russian-American dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov was a prominent male classical dancer of the 1970s and 1980s. Born in Latvian SSR, he moved to America where he joined the New York City Ballet. Within years, he became one of the most widely recognized contemporary ballet dancers in the world. He is also a dramatic actor.

 2 
Anna Pavlova
(Ballet dancer)

Anna Pavlova
4
Birthdate: February 12, 1881
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: January 23, 1931

One of the first ballerinas to travel extensively around the world, Anna Pavlova had first gained an interest in the dance form after watching an adaptation of The Sleeping Beauty. She initially gained fame dancing with Mikhail Mordkin and later made waves with her iconic role in The Dying Swan.

 3 
Rudolf Nureyev
(Choreographer & One of the Greatest Male Ballet Dancers of His Generation)

Rudolf Nureyev
10
Birthdate: March 17, 1938
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Irkutsk, Russia
Died: January 6, 1993

Born into a Tatar Muslim family, Rudolf Nureyev grew up to gain fans both for his exceptional ballet skills and for his sharp cheek bones. One of the greatest male ballet dancers ever, he gained fame performing with stars such as Margot Fonteynhe. A closeted homosexual, he died of AIDS.

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 4 
Alexander Godunov
(Ballet Dancer)

Alexander Godunov
6
Birthdate: November 28, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sakhalin, Russia
Died: May 18, 1995
Russian ballet dancer Alexander Godunov was part of the Bolshoi Ballet. He defected to the U.S. in 1979, causing significant U.S.-Soviet tension. He had also appeared in many films, such as Anna Karenina and Die Hard. His final days were marked by alcoholism, which also eventually caused his death.

 5 
Martha Graham
(Modern Dancer and Choreographer Known for Her 'Graham Technique' Style)

Martha Graham
6
Birthdate: May 11, 1894
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: April 1, 1991

Martha Graham was a modern dancer and choreographer who revolutionized American dance. She developed what later became known as the Graham technique, a modern dance movement style and pedagogy. She had an extensive career spanning over 70 years. The Martha Graham School, founded in 1926, is the oldest school of dance in USA.  

 6 
Margot Fonteyn
(Ballerina, Choreographer)

Margot Fonteyn
4
Birthdate: May 18, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Reigate, England
Died: February 21, 1991

 7 
Vaslav Nijinsky
(Ballet dancer)

Vaslav Nijinsky
4
Birthdate: March 12, 1889
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Died: April 8, 1950

Vaslav Nijinsky was a ballet dancer and choreographer. He is counted among the greatest male dancers of the early 20th century. He was known for the intensity of his characterizations. He was brilliant and could dance en pointe, a rare skill few male dancers of his era possessed. He suffered from mental health issues in his later life. 

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 8 
Maria Tallchief
(Ballet dancer)

Maria Tallchief
4
Birthdate: January 24, 1925
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fairfax
Died: April 11, 2013

Maria Tallchief was an American ballet dancer. Widely regarded as America's first major prima ballerina, Tallchief is credited with revolutionizing ballet. A close associate of George Balanchine, Tallchief went on to become the first star in New York City Ballet, the company co-founded by Balanchine. A National Medal of Arts recipient, Tallchief also received other prestigious awards during her career.

 9 
Galina Ulanova
(Ballet Dancer, Choreographer)

Galina Ulanova
3
Birthdate: January 8, 1910
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 21, 1998
Born to dancer parents, Soviet ballerina Galina Ulanova was destined to follow in their footsteps. The dancer who had performed with both Mariinsky and Bolshoi theaters remains the only two-time Hero of Socialist Labour winner. She amazed audiences in Giselle, Swan Lake, and Romeo and Juliet.

 10 

Svetlana Zakharova
3
Birthdate: June 10, 1979
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lutsk, Ukraine

Svetlana Zakharova is a Russian ballet dancer best known for her association with the popular classical ballet company, Bolshoi Ballet. Zakharova achieved international recognition in the 2000s, performing as a principal dancer in places like France. She is the first Russian principal dancer to perform in Paris. She has also hosted TV programs and appeared in the 2006 documentary Ballerina.

 11 
Maya Plisetskaya
(Former ballet dancer, choreographer)

Maya Plisetskaya
3
Birthdate: November 20, 1925
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: May 2, 2015

Maya Plisetskaya was a legendary Soviet and Russian ballerina. Growing up in a war-torn region, she had a difficult childhood. She sought solace in ballet and pursued a career as a dancer. She was remarkably fluid in her movements and soon became internationally renowned. She later became a ballet director and choreographer. She was married to composer Rodion Shchedrin. 

 12 
Mayte Garcia
(Actress & Dancer Known as the World’s Youngest Professional Belly Dancer)

Mayte Garcia
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1973
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Fort Rucker, Alabama, United States

Mayte Garcia is an American dancer, singer, and actress. She has worked with popular artists like Britney Spears. Mayte Garcia was married to record producer and musician, Prince, from 1996 to 2000. Mayte Garcia has also written a book titled The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince which was published in 2017.

 13 

Alicia Alonso
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1920
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba
Died: October 17, 2019

 14 
Amanda Schull
(Actress)

Amanda Schull
11
Birthdate: August 26, 1978
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Amanda Schull is an American actress known for her portrayal of Jody Sawyer in the 2000 teen drama film Center Stage. A former professional ballet dancer, Schull has also played important roles in other dance-based films like Mao's Last Dancer.

 15 
Leslie Caron
(Actress, Dancer)

Leslie Caron
4
Birthdate: July 1, 1931
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Boulogne-Billancourt, France
French-American actor Leslie Caron is best known for her BAFTA-winning roles in The L-Shaped Room and Lili. She has also won a Golden Globe and an Emmy. A seasoned actor, she began her career as a ballerina. She has also been a jury member at various international film festivals.

 16 
Sergei Diaghilev
(Art Critic)

Sergei Diaghilev
4
Birthdate: March 31, 1872
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chudovsky District, Russia
Died: August 19, 1929

Sergei Diaghilev was a Russian ballet impresario, patron, and art critic. He is credited with founding the popular ballet company Ballets Russes, which has produced some of the greatest and popular choreographers and dancers like Tamara Karsavina, Lydia Sokolova, Serge Lifar, and Alicia Markova. Sergei Diaghilev is remembered for placing the needs of his company and dancers above his own.

 17 
Darcey Bussell
(Ballerina)

Darcey Bussell
6
Birthdate: April 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London

 18 
Debbie McGee
(Radio performer)

Debbie McGee
4
Birthdate: October 31, 1958
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England, UK

 19 
Natalia Osipova
(Ballet dancer)

Natalia Osipova
3
Birthdate: May 18, 1986
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Natalia Osipova  is a Russian ballerina. She is currently a principal ballerina with The Royal Ballet in London. Beginning her formal ballet training at the age of nine, she proceeded to study at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography. She began her professional career at 18 and has since performed in several musicals. She has won many awards. 

 20 
Yvonne Craig
(Ballet dancer)

Yvonne Craig
4
Birthdate: May 16, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Taylorville, Illinois, United States
Died: August 17, 2015

Yvonne Craig was an American actress best known for her portrayal of Batgirl in the iconic 1960s TV series Batman. Such was her popularity that she was called a pioneer of female superheroes during the 1960s. Also remembered for her skills as a ballet dancer, Yvonne Craig's training as a ballerina helped her a lot while performing stunts in Batman.

 21 
Katherine LaNasa
(Actress Known for Her Roles in the Sitcom ‘Three Sisters’ and Films: ‘The Frozen Ground’, 'The Campaign')

Katherine LaNasa
6
Birthdate: December 1, 1966
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Katherine LaNasa is an American actress known for her starring roles in films like The Campaign and Jayne Mansfield's Car. A former ballet dancer and choreographer, LaNasa started dancing at the age of 12. During the late-1980s, LaNasa assisted choreographer John Carrafa for the 1989 crime and dance drama film Rooftops.

 22 
Sylvie Guillem
(Former allet dancer who has been named the top-ranking female dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet from 1984 until 1989)

Sylvie Guillem
3
Birthdate: February 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France

Sylvie Guillem is a French ballet dancer who worked with the Paris Opera Ballet where she was the top-ranking female dancer from 1984 to 1989. She then went on to become a principal guest artist at the Royal Ballet in London. Over the course of her career, Guillem has won many awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale.

 23 
Alvin Ailey
(Dancer)

Alvin Ailey
4
Birthdate: January 5, 1931
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rogers, Texas, United States
Died: December 1, 1989

 24 
Twyla Tharp
(Dancer and Choreographer)

Twyla Tharp
4
Birthdate: July 1, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Portland

Twyla Tharp is an American dancer, author, and choreographer. She is credited with founding Twyla Tharp Dance, which she formed in 1966. In 1976, Twyla Tharp choreographed Push Comes to Shove, which is now regarded as the finest example of crossover ballet. Twyla Tharp has received several prestigious awards, including two Emmy Awards and the National Medal of the Arts.

 25 
Andrea Parker
(Actress)

Andrea Parker
4
Birthdate: March 8, 1970
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Monterey County, California, USA

Andrea Parker is an American actress known for playing important roles in popular TV series like ER, Pretty Little Liars, and Desperate Housewives. In 2005, Parker was honored with the Women's Image Network Award under the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category for her portrayal of Lydia Weston in the popular sitcom Less Than Perfect.

 26 
Alessandra Ferri
(Ballet dancer)

Alessandra Ferri
3
Birthdate: May 6, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milan, Italy

 27 
Natalia Makarova
(Ballet dancer, Choreographer)

Natalia Makarova
3
Birthdate: November 21, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia

 28 
Olga Khokhlova
(Ballet dancer)

Olga Khokhlova
4
Birthdate: June 17, 1891
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nizhyn, Ukraine
Died: February 11, 1955

Olga Khokhlova was a Ukrainian ballet dancer. She also served as one of Pablo Picasso's early artistic muses before marrying him in 1918. Olga met Picasso at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris where the latter had designed the set and costumes for a ballet titled Parade, in which Olga performed. She left her ballet group after meeting Pablo Picasso.

 29 
Isabella Boylston
(Ballet dancer)

Isabella Boylston
4
Birthdate: October 13, 1986
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sun Valley

Isabella Boylston is an American ballerina who is part of the ballet company, American Ballet Theatre, where she is the current principal dancer. In 2009, she received the Princess Grace Award for her contribution as a dancer. Boylston is also known for her philanthropic efforts; in 2020, she participated in a fundraiser to help fellow dancers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

 30 
S. E. Cupp
(Television presenter)

S. E. Cupp
4
Birthdate: February 23, 1979
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oceanside, California, U.S.

S. E. Cupp is an American TV host, writer, and political commentator. As a writer, Cupp has contributed to several popular publications like The Washington Post, Maxim, and New York Daily News. A regular guest host on Fox News' talk show Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld, Cupp has also hosted other talk shows like The Cycle.

 31 

Sir Robert Helpmann
4
Birthdate: April 9, 1909
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mount Gambier, Australia
Died: September 28, 1986

 32 
Kelly Bishop
(Actress)

Kelly Bishop
4
Birthdate: February 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

Kelly Bishop is an American dancer and actress best known for playing Emily Gilmore on the popular comedy-drama TV series, Gilmore Girls. Bishop is also known for her role as Marjorie Houseman in the romantic drama dance movie Dirty Dancing. Also renowned for her work as a theatre actress, Bishop's performance in A Chorus Line earned her the Tony Award.

 33 
Robin Antin
(Ballet dancer, Choreographer, Television presenter, Actor, Dancer)

Robin Antin
3
Birthdate: July 6, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Los Angeles

Robin Antin is an American dancer, actress, singer, entrepreneur, clothing designer, and choreographer. Antin is credited with founding the Pussycat Dolls, a modern burlesque troupe that went on to become famous. She is also credited with creating other popular girl groups like the Paradiso Girls, Girlicious, and G.R.L. As a choreographer, she has worked with well-known personalities like Paris Hilton.

 34 
Frederick Ashton
(Choreographer)

Frederick Ashton
3
Birthdate: September 17, 1904
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Guayaquil, Ecuador
Died: October 18, 1988

 35 
Moira Shearer
(Actress)

Moira Shearer
3
Birthdate: January 17, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dunfermline, United Kingdom
Died: January 31, 2006

 36 
Diana Vishneva
(Ballet Dancer)

Diana Vishneva
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1976
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Diana Vishneva is a Russian ballerina who is currently associated with the Mariinsky Ballet where she is a principal dancer. Over the years, Vishneva has won several prestigious awards, such as the People's Artist of Russia, State Prize of Russia, and the Golden Mask theatre prize.

 37 
Pina Bausch
(Dancer)

Pina Bausch
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Solingen, Germany
Died: June 30, 2009

Pina Bausch was a German dancer remembered for her contribution to a neo-expressionist dance style which came to be known as the German Tanztheater. Bausch was also a choreographer and is credited with establishing the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. Bausch's works had a major influence on celebrities like David Bowie. She won many prestigious awards, including the Europe Theatre Prize.

 38 

Ninette de Valois
3
Birthdate: June 6, 1898
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Blessington, Ireland
Died: March 8, 2001

 39 
Tamara Rojo
(Ballet dancer)

Tamara Rojo
3
Birthdate: May 17, 1974
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 40 
Michel Fokine
(Choreographer)

Michel Fokine
3
Birthdate: April 23, 1880
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: August 22, 1942

Michel Fokine was a Russian dancer and choreographer whose pieces are performed internationally to this day. Fokine is credited with choreographing the works of popular dancers like Anna Pavlova. Renowned for his groundbreaking works, such as Le Pavillon d'Armide, Michel Fokine has been portrayed in a couple of films, namely Nijinsky and A Woman for All Time.

 41 
Sascha Radetsky
(Choreographer, Actor)

Sascha Radetsky
4
Birthdate: March 29, 1977
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Santa Cruz

Sascha Radetsky is an American former actor and ballet dancer. He served as a soloist in the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and performed as a principal dancer in the Dutch National Ballet. In 2018, he was chosen as the artistic director of ABT's Studio Company. As an actor, Sascha Radetsky played prominent roles in films like Center Stage.

 42 
Alicia Markova
(Ballerina)

Alicia Markova
3
Birthdate: December 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Finsbury Park, London, England
Died: December 2, 2004

 43 
Kenneth MacMillan
(Ballet dancer)

Kenneth MacMillan
3
Birthdate: December 11, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dunfermline, England
Died: October 29, 1992

 44 
Agnes de Mille
(American dancer and choreographer)

Agnes de Mille
3
Birthdate: September 18, 1905
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City
Died: October 7, 1993

 45 
Pati Behrs
(Ballet dancer)

Pati Behrs
3
Birthdate: February 13, 1922
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Turkey
Died: July 4, 2004

Pati Behrs was a Russian-American actress and prima ballerina. In addition to being a celebrity, Pati Behrs was also an animal rights advocate who worked closely with the California-based non-profit corporation, Actors and Others for Animals. She presented Actors and Others with her famous baby grand piano, which was later sold to help animals in need.

 46 

Franceska Mann
3
Birthdate: February 4, 1917
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: October 23, 1943

 47 
Suzanne Farrell
(Ballet dancer)

Suzanne Farrell
3
Birthdate: August 16, 1945
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cincinnati

 48 
Ethan Stiefel
(Choreographer, Actor)

Ethan Stiefel
3
Birthdate: February 13, 1973
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tyrone

Ethan Stiefel is an American dancer, director, and choreographer. From 1997 to 2012, he served as the principal dancer at the famous American Ballet Theatre. From 2011 to 2014, he was associated with the Royal New Zealand Ballet where he was the artistic director. Currently, Ethan Stiefel is widely regarded as the world's greatest male ballet dancer.

 49 
Lindsay Kemp
(Choreographer, Actor, Ballet dancer, Mime artist)

Lindsay Kemp
3
Birthdate: May 3, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: South Shields

 50 
Zizi Jeanmaire
(Ballet dancer)

Zizi Jeanmaire
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1924
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 17, 2020

Zizi Jeanmaire was a French actress, ballet dancer, and singer. Jeanmaire achieved popularity in the 1950s after portraying the title role in the popular ballet Carmen which was created by Roland Petit and staged at the Prince's Theatre in London. She went on to marry Roland Petit, who created several revues and ballets for her.