Famous 20th Century Choreographers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Choreographers

 1 Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 29, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gary, Indiana, United States
Died: June 25, 2009

The King of Pop and an international superstar, Michael Jackson was a musical entertainer whose work – both with Jackson 5 and solo – won accolades and hearts worldwide. Equally popular were his unique dance moves that created sensation and shaped future dance styles. Amongst the most successful entertainers of all time, Jackson was later accused of child molestation.  

 2 Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 10, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Died: June 22, 1987

Fred Astaire was an American actor, television presenter, dancer, choreographer, and singer. Widely regarded as the most influential dancer in film history, Astaire was known for his innovation, perfectionism, and an uncanny sense of rhythm. Also known for his fashion sense, Fred Astaire remained a male fashion icon throughout his career, which spanned more than seven decades.

 3 Eugene Curran Kelly

Eugene Curran Kelly
4
Famous As: Actor, Dancer
Birthdate: August 23, 1912
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 2, 1996

Actor, dancer, singer, and filmmaker, Gene Kelly, was one of the most popular Hollywood figures in the 1940s and 1950s. Among his other achievements, he is credited to have popularized the genre of musical films in Hollywood. As a filmmaker, he often experimented with camera techniques and special effects. He received an Academy Honorary Award in 1952.

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 4 Mikhail Baryshnikov

Mikhail Baryshnikov
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Famous As: Choreographer, Dance
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.

 5 Gregory Hines

Gregory Hines
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Famous As: Dancer, Choreographer and Actor
Birthdate: February 14, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: August 9, 2003
Gregory Hines is remembered as one of the greatest tap dancers in the world. His performance in the Broadway play Jelly's Last Jam won him a Tony and a Drama Desk award. He also won an Emmy for his voice role in Little Bill and hosted his own show.

 6 Rudolf Nureyev

Rudolf Nureyev
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Famous As: Ballet Dancer & Choreographer
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.

 7 Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan
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Famous As: Dancer & Choreographer
Birthdate: May 26, 1877
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: September 14, 1927

Isadora Duncan was a dancer acclaimed in USA, Europe, and the Soviet Union. Raised by a single mother, she grew up in poverty and started teaching dance to children to earn some money. She later joined Augustin Daly's theater company. Eventually, she opened her own dance schools to teach her unique philosophy and techniques to her students. 

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 8 Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez
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Famous As: Singer, Actress, Dancer
Birthdate: July 24, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Castle Hill, New York, United States

Jennifer Lopez established herself as the highest-paid Latin actress in Hollywood after starring in films such as Out of Sight, The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan and Shall We Dance’. She is also an accomplished dancer and commercially very successful singer. She helped propel the Latin pop movement in American music. She is also a fashion designer and a businesswoman.

 9 Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Dancer
Birthdate: June 19, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Fernando, California, United States

Starting her career as a cheerleader, Paula Abdul went on to choreograph music videos for Janet Jackson. She then tried her hand at singing-songwriting and released a highly successful debut studio album. Also an award-winning actress, Paula was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has also appeared in TV shows like American Idol.

 10 Martha Graham

Martha Graham
5
Famous As: Modern dancer and choreographer
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.  

 11 Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 16, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States

Debbie Allen is an actress, dancer, choreographer, and singer-songwriter.  She appeared in the musical-drama TV series Fame and also worked as the series’ principal choreographer. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including three Emmy Awards. She runs the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles and is a former member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. 

 12 Lisa Niemi

Lisa Niemi
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Famous As: Actress, Director
Birthdate: May 26, 1956
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
Lisa Niemi is known for her appearance in Steel Dawn and One Last Dance, with her former husband Patrick Swayze. She also released memoirs, both New York Times bestsellers and one of them co-written by Swayze. Swayze’s death due to pancreatic cancer led her to spread awareness about the ailment.

 13 Rosie Perez

Rosie Perez
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 6, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bushwick, New York, United States
Rosa Perez is best known for her Academy Award-nominated role of Carla Rodrigo in Fearless and her Emmy-nominated choreography in the series In Living Color. She has also appeared in Broadway plays such as The Ritz and has co-hosted The View. She is also associated with major HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns.

 14 Rob Marshall

Rob Marshall
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Famous As: Director
Birthdate: October 17, 1960
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Madison, Wisconsin, USA

 15 Margot Fonteyn

Margot Fonteyn
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Famous As: Ballerina, Choreographer
Birthdate: May 18, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Reigate, England
Died: February 21, 1991

 16 George Balanchine

George Balanchine
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Famous As: Choreographer
Birthdate: January 22, 1904
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Died: April 30, 1983
George Balanchine was a Georgian-American ballet choreographer. One of the most prominent choreographers of the 20th century, Balanchine won several prestigious awards like the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. Referred to as the father of American ballet, Balanchine is credited with co-founding the New York City Ballet. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1988.

 17 Vaslav Nijinsky

Vaslav Nijinsky
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Famous As: Ballet dancer
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. 

 18 Ashley Roberts

Ashley Roberts
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: September 14, 1981
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona, USA

 19 Carrie Ann Inaba

Carrie Ann Inaba
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Famous As: Television personality, dancer, choreographer best known for her work on ABC TV's Dancing with the Stars for which she has served as a judge since 2005
Birthdate: January 5, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

 20 Darcey Bussell

Darcey Bussell
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Famous As: Ballerina
Birthdate: April 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London

 21 Jerome Robbins

Jerome Robbins
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Famous As: Dance Choreographer
Birthdate: October 11, 1918
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manhattan
Died: July 29, 1998

 22 Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp
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Famous As: Dancer and Choreographer
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.

 23 Q'orianka Kilcher

Q'orianka Kilcher
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 11, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Schweigmatt, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Q'orianka Kilcher is an American actress, activist, and singer. She is best known for playing important characters in films like The New World and Princess Kaiulani. As an activist, Kilcher has been visiting universities and colleges and delivering speeches at organizations like Amnesty International. 

 24 Savion Glover

Savion Glover
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Famous As: Actor, Choreographer, Television actor, Stage actor
Birthdate: November 19, 1973
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Newark

 25 Pawan Kalyan

Pawan Kalyan
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Famous As: Film director, Actor, Choreographer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: September 2, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bapatla

Pawan Kalyan is an Indian actor, screenwriter, director, stunt coordinator, politician, and philanthropist. Best known for his work in the Telugu film industry, Pawan Kalyan is one of the most popular actors of his generation. He is also known for his humanitarian work; he is credited with establishing a charitable organization called Common Man Protection Force.

 26 Katherine LaNasa

Katherine LaNasa
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Famous As: Actress
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.

 27 Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 2, 1949
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

 28 Bruno Tonioli

Bruno Tonioli
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Famous As: Choreographer
Birthdate: November 25, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ferrara, Italy
Italian choreographer Bruno Tonioli gained fame as a Latin and ball dancer. He was a judge on the dance reality shows Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars and also appeared on DanceX and Dance War. He is gay and has often spoken of the homophobia he has faced.

 29 Katherine Dunham

Katherine Dunham
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Famous As: Dancer, Choreographer
Birthdate: June 22, 1909
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Glen Ellyn, Illinois, United States
Died: May 21, 2006

Dancer, choreographer, and social activist Katherine Dunham was also a qualified anthropologist. She experimented with various ritual dances, and her innovations included a ballet performance based on Caribbean dance. She also pioneered the Dunham Technique of dance pedagogy and used the pen-name Kaye Dunn to write several works.

 30 Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham
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Famous As: Dancer and Choreographer
Birthdate: April 16, 1919
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Centralia, Washington
Died: July 26, 2009
American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham was at the forefront of American modern dance for more than 50 years.  Cunningham was honoured with Japan's Praemium Imperiale and a British Laurence Olivier Award. He was also named Officier of the Légion d'honneur in France. A documentary titled Cunningham was made on his life in 2019.

 31 Peta Murgatroyd

Peta Murgatroyd
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Famous As: Dancer
Birthdate: July 14, 1986
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand

 32 Prabhu Deva

Prabhu Deva
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Famous As: Film director, Actor, Choreographer, Dancer
Birthdate: April 3, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mysore

Born Prabhu Sundaram, Prabhu Deva soared to fame with the song Mukkabla from Kadhalan. Born to a movie choreographer father, he followed in his footsteps to learn classical dance at an early age. The Padma Shri- and two-time National Award-winning dancer later gravitated to acting and direction.

 33 Mark Ballas

Mark Ballas
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Famous As: Singer, Dancer, Choreographer, Stage actor, Guitarist
Birthdate: May 24, 1986
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Houston

 34 Ann Reinking

Ann Reinking
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Famous As: Actor, Choreographer, Dancer, Stage actor
Birthdate: November 10, 1949
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Seattle

 35 Kimberly Wyatt

Kimberly Wyatt
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 4, 1982
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warrensburg, Missouri, United States

 36 Kenny Ortega

Kenny Ortega
3
Famous As: Filmmaker
Birthdate: April 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Palo Alto, California, United States
Emmy-winning choreographer Kenny Ortega is best known for directing and choreographing the High School Musical TV film series and the Descendants trilogy, both for Disney Channel. Ortega has also directed shows for popular artists such as Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, and Cher. He is also openly gay. 

 37 Khandi Alexander

Khandi Alexander
3
Famous As: Dancer, Actress
Birthdate: September 4, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Florida, United States

 38 Adam Rippon

Adam Rippon
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Famous As: Figure skater
Birthdate: November 11, 1989
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States

 39 Michael Flatley

Michael Flatley
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Famous As: Dancer & Musician
Birthdate: July 16, 1958
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Born in Chicago, Irish-origin entertainer Michael Flatley took to dancing inspired by his step dancer mother and music-loving father. Initially a gambler and stockbroker, he later performed with The Chieftains and then choreographed the globally renowned show Riverdance. He later launched shows such as Lord of the Dance and Celtic Tiger.

 40 Janette Manrara

Janette Manrara
5
Famous As: Dancer
Birthdate: November 16, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States
Miami-based Cuban dancer Janette Manrara is best known for her stint on the reality show Strictly Come Dancing. Fans have also loved her in Glee, Burn the Floor, and So You Think You Can Dance. She is married to her Strictly Come Dancing co-star Slovenian dancer Aljaž Škorjanec.

 41 Columbus Short

Columbus Short
4
Famous As: Choreographer
Birthdate: September 19, 1982
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, USA

 42 Raoul Trujillo

Raoul Trujillo
3
Famous As: Choreographer
Birthdate: May 8, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States

 43 Iko Uwais

Iko Uwais
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 12, 1983
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Jakarta, Indonesia

 44 Briana Evigan

Briana Evigan
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 23, 1986
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA

 45 Sergei Diaghilev

Sergei Diaghilev
3
Famous As: Art Critic
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.

 46 Patsy Swayze

Patsy Swayze
3
Famous As: Choreographer
Birthdate: February 7, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Harris County, Texas, United States
Died: September 16, 2013

 47 Frank Dux

Frank Dux
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Famous As: Martial artist, fight choreographer
Birthdate: April 6, 1956
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

Frank Dux is a Canadian martial artist and fight choreographer. He began his training in ninjutsu as a teenager. He claims he served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for a few years and was awarded the Medal of Honor; however, this claim is disputed. He later founded his own school of ninjutsu called Dux Ryu Ninjutsu. 

 48 Ruth Connell

Ruth Connell
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: April 20, 1979
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Falkirk, Scotland, UK

 49 Alvin Ailey

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

 50 Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Maksim Chmerkovskiy
4
Famous As: Choreographer
Birthdate: January 17, 1980
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Odesa, Ukraine