Famous 20th Century Dancers

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

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 1 Prince

Prince.
4
Famous As: African-American Singer
Birthdate: June 7, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Died: April 21, 2016

Singer-songwriter, dancer, and musician, Prince is is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. He was considered a guitar virtuoso and could also play several other instruments. With worldwide sales of over 150 million records, he is ranked among the best-selling music artists of all time. He was also well known for his flamboyant persona.

 2 James Brown

James Brown.
4
Famous As: Musician, recording artist, producer, dancer, bandleader
Birthdate: May 3, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Barnwell, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2006

Referred to by honorific nicknames, such as Godfather of Soul, James Brown was a prominent figure of 20th century music. A progenitor of funk music, Brown influenced the development of many music genres. An inductee of the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame, Brown is ranked seventh in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.

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 3 Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker.
10
Famous As: Entertainer, Actress, Singer
Birthdate: June 3, 1906
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: April 12, 1975
Nicknamed Black Pearl and Creole Goddess, Josephine Baker was the first Black woman to appear in a motion picture. She was a revue dancer, famous for her signature banana costume. A civil rights activist, she helped the French military during World War II. She adopted 12 children of different ethnicities.

 4 Bob Fosse

Bob Fosse.
6
Famous As: Dancer
Birthdate: June 23, 1927
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died: September 23, 1987
Legendary dancer, choreographer, and director Bob Fosse is best remembered for his Academy Award-winning direction in the musical film Cabaret. Renowned for his signature “jazz hands” style, he also earned the Palme D'Or for All That Jazz and nine Tony Awards for various stage productions, eight of them for choreography. 
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 5 Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers.
4
Famous As: Actress, Dancer
Birthdate: July 16, 1911
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Independence, Missouri, United States
Died: April 25, 1995

Ginger Rogers was an American actress, singer, and dancer. Often regarded as an American icon, Rogers played an important role in popularizing the Golden Age of Hollywood. After winning the Academy Award for portraying the title character in Kitty Foyle, Rogers became one of the highest-paid actresses during the 1940s. Her life inspired a musical titled Backwards in High Heels.

 6 Benjamin Millepied

Benjamin Millepied.
6
Famous As: Ballet Dancer, Choreographer
Birthdate: June 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bordeaux
French dancer Benjamin Millepied was initially associated with the New York City Ballet. He launched the LA Dance Project and was the director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet. He gained fame as the choreographer of the iconic movie Black Swan, and later married its lead actor, Natalie Portman.

 7 Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy Davis Jr..
9
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 8, 1925
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: May 16, 1990

Nicknamed “Mister Show Business,” posthumous Grammy-winner Samuel Davis Jr. was a multifaceted performer who excelled in dancing, singing, and acting. From delivering vaudeville performances as a child, Samuel graduated to creating Billboard charters and performing with Frank Sinatra as part of the Rat Pack. Sadly, he died in debt.

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 8 Eugene Curran Kelly

Eugene Curran Kelly.
4
Famous As: American 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.

 9 Gregory Hines

Gregory Hines.
4
Famous As: Dancer and Actor
Birthdate: February 14, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City, 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.

 10 Mikhail Baryshnikov

Mikhail Baryshnikov.
9
Famous As: Ballet Dancer
Birthdate: January 27, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Riga

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.

 11 Bruno Tonioli

Bruno Tonioli.
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Famous As: Choreographer
Birthdate: November 25, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna
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.

 12 Alexander Godunov

Alexander Godunov.
3
Famous As: Ballet Dancer
Birthdate: November 28, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin
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.

 13 Grant Gustin

Grant Gustin.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 14, 1990
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Grant Gustin is best known as Barry Allen/The Flash from the series The Flash and the entire Arrowverse TV franchise. Fans have also loved him as Sebastian Smythe in the series Glee. He also portrayed Baby John in the Broadway revival of the musical West Side Story.

 14 Mark Ballas

Mark Ballas
3
Famous As: Singer, Dancer, Choreographer, Stage actor, Guitarist
Birthdate: May 24, 1986
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Houston

 15 Rosie Perez

Rosie Perez.
4
Famous As: Film Actress & Show Host
Birthdate: September 6, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bushwick, New York City, 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.

 16 Bob Hope

Bob Hope.
6
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: May 29, 1903
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Eltham, London, England
Died: July 27, 2003
Bob Hope began his career with vaudeville and Broadway, before plunging into radio and films. He is remembered for his comedy timing and trademark self-deprecating humor. He hosted the Academy Awards 19 times and authored 14 books, apart from performing for the U.S. military in 57 USO tours.

 17 Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon
6
Famous As: Singer, Model, Dancer
Birthdate: October 7, 1978
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London

Alesha Dixon is an English singer-songwriter, rapper, and TV personality. She initially wanted to become a teacher, but destiny had other plans for her, and she ended up entering the music world. She rose to fame as a singer in the 2000s as a member of the girl group Mis-Teeq. She later pursued a successful solo career as well. 

 18 Adrienne Bailon

Adrienne Bailon
10
Famous As: Actor, Singer, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Dancer, Television actor
Birthdate: October 24, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lower East Side

 19 Bebe Neuwirth

Bebe Neuwirth.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 31, 1958
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey
Bebe Neuwirth is best known as Lilith Sternin from Cheers and its spin-off, Frasier, a role that won her two Emmys. She is also a talented stage actor, who has delivered Tony Award–winning performances in Sweet Charity and Chicago. A cat lover, she has donated to various animal charities.

 20 Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt.
6
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 17, 1927
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: North, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt was an American actress, comedian, dancer, and singer-songwriter. Renowned for her distinctive singing style, Kitt recorded several chartbusting songs during the 1950s. Also a well-known activist, Eartha Kitt established a non-profit organization called the Kittsville Youth Foundation, which helped underprivileged youths in Los Angeles. She was also an ardent advocate for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

 21 Dorothy Dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 9, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died: September 8, 1965

Actress, singer, and dancer Dorothy Dandridge was one of the earliest African-American women stars to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Incredibly successful in her career, she was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As a singer, she used to perform in night clubs. Unfortunately, she died under mysterious circumstances at 42.

 22 Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey.
3
Famous As: Choreographer
Birthdate: January 5, 1931
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rogers, Texas, U.S.
Died: December 1, 1989

 23 Prabhu Deva

Prabhu Deva
8
Famous As: Film director, Actor, Choreographer, Dancer
Birthdate: April 3, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mysore

 24 Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper.
9
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 22, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Suffern, New York
Valerie Harper is best remembered as Rhoda Morgenstern from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Rhoda, with the role winning her four Emmys. She also hosted Nova and was seen as Valerie Hogan in the sitcom Valerie. She also earned a Tony nomination for the play Looped.

 25 Hema Malini

Hema Malini
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Famous As: Actor, Politician, Film director, Film producer, Dancer, Film actor
Birthdate: October 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tamil Nadu

 26 Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 2, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Helena, Montana, United States
Died: December 14, 1993

 27 Darcey Bussell

Darcey Bussell.
6
Famous As: Ballerina
Birthdate: April 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London

 28 JC Chasez

JC Chasez
4
Famous As: Singer, Actor, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Record producer
Birthdate: August 8, 1976
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

 29 Robbie Amell

Robbie Amell.
12
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 21, 1988
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

Robbie Amell is a Canadian-American actor who became a US citizen, along with his wife Italia Ricci, after moving to Los Angeles. Also a producer, Robbie has played an important role in many Canadian film productions. An ice hockey enthusiast, Robbie is currently a fan of the Los Angeles Kings, although he supported the Toronto Maple Leafs while growing up.

 30 Margot Fonteyn

Margot Fonteyn.
3
Famous As: Ballerina, Choreographer
Birthdate: May 18, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Reigate, England
Died: February 21, 1991

 31 Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: April 23, 1928
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California
Died: February 10, 2014

After starting her film career at the age of three, Shirley Temple went on to become Hollywood's highest-grossing child actress from 1935 to 1938. She is the epitome of popular child stars who lose their charm as they grow up. Despite failing as an adult actress, she is ranked 18th in the greatest female screen legends of Classic Hollywood list.

 32 Carrie Ann Inaba

Carrie Ann Inaba
4
Famous As: Actor, Singer, Choreographer, Dancer, Television actor
Birthdate: January 5, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Honolulu

 33 Gwen Verdon

Gwen Verdon.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 13, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Culver City, California, United States
Died: October 18, 2000

Four-time Tony-winning actor Gwen Verdon is remembered for her SAG-nominated performance in Marvin’s Room. She was known for her signature red hair and her love for cats. She was nominated for Emmys for the series Magnum, P.I., Dream On, and Homicide: Life on the Street. She inspired the series Fosse/Verdon.

 34 Alyssa Edwards

Alyssa Edwards.
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Famous As: Drag Performer
Birthdate: January 16, 1980
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mesquite, Texas

Alyssa Edwards is an American choreographer, drag performer, and businessperson. She gained international prominence after participating in the reality competition TV series RuPaul's Drag Race in 2013. In June 2019, she was ranked fifth in New York magazine's most powerful drag queens in America list. Alyssa Edwards’ life and career inspired the 2018 docuseries Dancing Queen which premiered on Netflix.

 35 Phyllis Smith

Phyllis Smith.
6
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 10, 1951
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: The Hill, St. Louis, Missouri

Phyllis Smith is an American actress best known for portraying Phyllis Vance in the popular mockumentary TV series, The Office, for which she received a couple of Screen Actors Guild Awards. Also known for her skills as a voice actress, Smith was honored with the prestigious Annie Award for voicing Sadness in the 2015 computer-animated comedy film, Inside Out.

 36 Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno
11
Famous As: Actor, Musician, Singer, Stage actor, Television actor, Dancer
Birthdate: December 11, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Humacao, Puerto Rico

 37 Pawan Kalyan

Pawan Kalyan
9
Famous As: Film director, Actor, Choreographer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: September 2, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bapatla

 38 George Balanchine

George Balanchine
3
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.

 39 The Big Bopper

The Big Bopper
4
Famous As: Singer, Musician, Disc jockey, Songwriter
Birthdate: October 24, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Port Arthur
Died: February 3, 1959

 40 Eve Torres

Eve Torres
4
Famous As: Actor, Model, Dancer, Professional wrestler, Television actor, Amateur wrestler
Birthdate: August 21, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Boston

 41 Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp.
3
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.

 42 Jerome Robbins

Jerome Robbins.
3
Famous As: Dance Choreographer
Birthdate: October 11, 1918
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manhattan
Died: July 29, 1998

 43 Nikki Cox

Nikki Cox.
4
Famous As: Actress, Dancer
Birthdate: June 2, 1978
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California U.S.

Nikki Cox is best known as Tiffany Malloy from Unhappily Ever After, Mary Connell from Las Vegas, and Nikki White from Nikki. She has also appeared in General Hospital and California Dreams. She was married to actor Jay Mohr, who added “Cox” to his surname, though the couple divorced later.

 44 Rudolf Nureyev

Rudolf Nureyev.
3
Famous As: Ballet Dancer & Choreographer
Birthdate: March 17, 1938
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Irkutsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
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.

 45 Edith Bouvier Beale

Edith Bouvier Beale
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Famous As: Actor, Dancer, Socialite, Model
Birthdate: November 7, 1917
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York City
Died: January 9, 2002

 46 Tracy Nelson

Tracy Nelson
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 25, 1963
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, United States

 47 Katherine Dunham

Katherine Dunham.
3
Famous As: Dancer, Choreographer, Social Activist, Author
Birthdate: June 22, 1909
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Glen Ellyn
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.

 48 Lauren Gottlieb

Lauren Gottlieb
3
Famous As: Actor, Television actor
Birthdate: June 8, 1988
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Scottsdale

 49 Khandi Alexander

Khandi Alexander.
3
Famous As: Dancer, Actress
Birthdate: September 4, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City, New York

 50 Phil LaMarr

Phil LaMarr
4
Famous As: Stand-up comedian, Actor, Film director, Television director, Film producer, Television producer, Screenwriter, Singer, Dancer, Voice actor, Comedian, Film actor, Television actor
Birthdate: January 24, 1967
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles