Ballet Dancers

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Who among us has not admired those beautiful and elegant ballerinas skillfully gliding across the dance floor swaying to melodious music? Ballet dancers are the individuals who practice the art of ballet, a type of performance dance that originated in Italy during the Renaissance period. Classical ballet, though one of the most prestigious forms of dance is also a very demanding one. A ballet dancer’s career is fleeting—it begins early and ends early. A typical ballet dancer has a very grueling schedule. They go through years of rigorous training, hours of rehearsals and classes, and harsh physical demands. It is such a demanding career that only the ones with an intense passion for the art form can persevere in this field. Anna Pavlova, undoubtedly one of the most celebrated ballet dancers ever, was renowned for her role of the Dying Swan which immortalized her. Vaslav Nijinsky who performed during the early 20th century was counted among the greatest male ballet dancers for his magnificent leaps and intense characterization. Russian actor Mikhail Nikolaevich Baryshnikov is also counted along Nijinsky as one of the greatest male ballet dancers. Even though ballet dancers have a brief career, they get to enjoy tremendous face and acclaim within this short period. Browse on to learn about the famous ballet dancers who have left their marks on the dance world.

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 1 
Mikhail Baryshnikov
(One of the Greatest Ballet Dancers of the 20th Century)
Mikhail Baryshnikov
11
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 
Misty Copeland
(The First African-American Woman to Serve as the 'American Ballet Theatre' Company's Principal Dancer)
Misty Copeland
16
Birthdate: 1982
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Ballet dancer Misty Copeland is known for her association with American Ballet Theatre and is the first Black woman to become the principal dancer there. She also gained fame as a public speaker and stage performer. Named to Time 100, she has also written a memoir and narrated a documentary.
 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 
Anna Pavlova
(Russian Ballerina and One of the Most-Celebrated Ballet Dancers of Her Time)
Anna Pavlova
6
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.

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 5 
Alexander Godunov
(American Ballet Dancer, Actor and Member of the ‘Bolshoi Ballet’)
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.
 6 
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.  

 7 
Margot Fonteyn
(English Ballet Dancer)
Margot Fonteyn
4
Birthdate: May 18, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Reigate, England
Died: February 21, 1991

Margot Fonteyn was an English ballerina who spent her entire dancing career at the Royal Ballet. She was eventually appointed prima ballerina assoluta of the Royal Ballet by Queen Elizabeth II. Margot Fonteyn achieved international fame after a tour of the US in 1949. She also helped popularize ballet in the US by appearing on TV before and after WWII.

 8 
Maria Tallchief
(Ballet dancer)
Maria Tallchief
6
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 
Michaela DePrince
(Sierra Leonean-American Ballet Dancer)
Michaela DePrince
5
Birthdate: January 6, 1995
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kenema, Sierra Leone

Michaela DePrince is a Sierra Leonean-American ballerina and writer. She is credited with co-authoring a book titled Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. Michaela DePrince achieved popularity in 2011 when she was featured in a documentary titled First Position, which follows her and other ballerinas as they prepare for the upcoming Youth America Grand Prix.

 10 
Sergei Diaghilev
(Russian Art Critic, Ballet Impresario and Founder of the 'Ballets Russes')
Sergei Diaghilev
6
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.

 11 
Galina Ulanova
(One of the Greatest Ballerinas of the 20th Century)
Galina Ulanova
5
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.
 12 
Benjamin Millepied
(French Dancer and Choreographer Known for His Work in the Movie ‘Black Swan’)
Benjamin Millepied
14
Birthdate: June 15, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France
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.
 13 
Alicia Alonso
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1920
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba
Died: October 17, 2019
 14 
Mayte Garcia
(Actress & Dancer Known as the World’s Youngest Professional Belly Dancer)
Mayte Garcia
8
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.

 15 
Amanda Schull
(Known for Her Lead Role in the Film 'Center Stage' and the TV Series 'Suits')
Amanda Schull
13
Birthdate: August 26, 1978
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

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.

 16 
Svetlana Zakharova
(First Russian Principal Dancer Performing in Paris and Became a World Star as of 2000)
Svetlana Zakharova
5
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.

 17 
Darcey Bussell
(One of the Best British Ballerinas of All Time)
Darcey Bussell
8
Birthdate: April 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London

Darcey Bussell is an English former ballerina best known for her appearances as a judge on the popular television show, Strictly Come Dancing. She is also known for her association with the Royal Ballet, where she was a principal dancer. Darcey Bussell is considered one of the best British ballerinas of all time and is the recipient of numerous awards.  

 18 
Marius Petipa
(One of the Most Influential Ballet Masters and Choreographers in Ballet History)
Marius Petipa
3
Birthdate: March 11, 1818
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Marseille, France
Died: July 14, 1910

Marius Petipa was a French pedagogue, ballet dancer, and choreographer. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and important ballet choreographers and masters in ballet history. From 1871 to 1903, he served as the principal choreographer and Ballet Master of the popular Imperial Russian Ballet. In the 1983 biopic Anna Pavlova, Petipa was played by Pyotr Gusev.

 19 
Maya Plisetskaya
(Former ballet dancer, choreographer)
Maya Plisetskaya
7
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. 

 20 
Leslie Caron
(Actress & Dancer Known for Her Films: 'Lili' and 'The L-Shaped Room')
Leslie Caron
8
Birthdate: July 1, 1931
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Boulogne-sur-Seine, Paris, 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.
 21 
Yvonne Craig
(Best Known for Her Role as 'Batgirl/Barbara Gordon' in the 1960s Television Series 'Batman')
Yvonne Craig
6
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.

 22 
Alvin Ailey
(Dancer)
Alvin Ailey
4
Birthdate: January 5, 1931
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rogers, Texas, United States
Died: December 1, 1989
 23 
Julia Goldani Telles
(Actress and Ballet Dancer)
Julia Goldani Telles
4
Birthdate: March 18, 1995
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Julia Goldani Telles is an American ballet dancer and actress best known for portraying the role of Sasha Torres in a comedy-drama TV series titled Bunheads. Apart from playing prominent roles in films and TV series, Julia Goldani Telles has also appeared in a number of ballet performances, such as Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Don Quixote, and Sleeping Beauty.

 24 
Vaslav Nijinsky
(Ballet Dancer, Choreographer and One of the Greatest Male Dancers of All Time)
Vaslav Nijinsky
0
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. 

 25 
Sylvie Guillem
(French Ballet Dancer)
Sylvie Guillem
3
Birthdate: February 23, 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.

 26 
Sergei Polunin
(Ballet Dancer)
Sergei Polunin
6
Birthdate: November 20, 1989
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kherson, Ukraine

Sergei Polunin is a Soviet-born ballet dancer, model, and actor. He is of mixed ethnicity, but has "always regarded himself as Russian". He started training in gymnastics at the age of four and then switched to ballet. At 19, he became the Royal Ballet's youngest ever principal dancer. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Prix de Lausanne. 

 27 
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. 

Gabriela Rodríguez de Bukele
4
Birthdate: March 31, 1985
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: San Salvador, El Salvador
 29 
Katherine LaNasa
(Actress Known for Her Roles in the Sitcom ‘Three Sisters’ and Films: ‘The Frozen Ground’, 'The Campaign')
Katherine LaNasa
8
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.

 30 
Alessandra Ferri
(Ballet dancer)
Alessandra Ferri
3
Birthdate: May 6, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
 31 
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.

 32 
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.

 33 
Roberto Bolle
(Ballet dancer)
Roberto Bolle
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1975
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Casale Monferrato, Italy
 34 
Langston Fishburne
4
Birthdate: December 14, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

Langston Fishburne is an American actor best known for portraying the younger version of Bill Foster in the 2018 superhero film Ant-Man and the Wasp; the older version of Bill Foster was played by his real-life father Laurence Fishburne. A multi-talented personality, Langston Fishburne also studied ballet in New York City.  

 35 
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.

 36 
Olga Khokhlova
(Russian Ballet Dancer and First Wife of Artist Pablo Picasso)
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.

 37 
Frederick Ashton
(British Choreographer and Ballet Dancer)
Frederick Ashton
3
Birthdate: September 17, 1904
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Guayaquil, Ecuador
Died: August 18, 1988

Frederick Ashton was a British choreographer and ballet dancer. He is best remembered for his work as a choreographer and director in opera, film, and revue. He achieved popularity as the chief choreographer at the Royal Ballet, where he worked alongside Ninette de Valois. Frederick Ashton succeeded de Valois as the company's director, serving until his retirement in 1970.

 38 
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.

 39 
Pina Bausch
(German Dancer and Choreographer Known for Her Neo-Expressionist Dance Tradition)
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.

 40 
Moira Shearer
(Scottish Actress and Ballet Dancer Best Known for Her Performance in the Movie 'The Red Shoes')
Moira Shearer
3
Birthdate: January 17, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
Died: January 31, 2006

Moira Shearer was a Scottish actress and ballet dancer. She is best remembered for playing an important role in the movie The Red Shoes. Although Moira Shearer went on to work as a dancer and actress for many decades after making her acting debut in The Red Shoes, she is still primarily known for her portrayal of Vicky in the 1948 film.

 41 
Robin Antin
(Ballet dancer, Choreographer, Television presenter, Actor, Dancer)
Robin Antin
5
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.

 42 
Sir Robert Helpmann
4
Birthdate: April 9, 1909
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mount Gambier, Australia
Died: September 28, 1986
 43 
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.

 44 
Tamara Rojo
(Ballet dancer)
Tamara Rojo
3
Birthdate: May 17, 1974
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
 45 
Ninette de Valois
(British Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher, and Director of Classical Ballet)
Ninette de Valois
3
Birthdate: June 6, 1898
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Blessington, Ireland
Died: March 8, 2001

Ninette de Valois was an Irish-born British dancer, choreographer, teacher, and director of classical ballet. She is best remembered for founding The Royal Ballet, which went on to become a world renowned classical ballet company. Counted among the most influential personalities in the history of ballet, Ninette de Valois is also credited with establishing the Royal Ballet School.

 46 
Michel Fokine
(Russian Choreographer and Dancer)
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.

 47 
Mathilde Kschessinska
(Russian Ballerina and the First Russian Dancer to Master 32 Consecutive 'Fouettés en Tournant')
Mathilde Kschessinska
3
Birthdate: August 31, 1872
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ligovo, Russia
Died: December 6, 1971

Mathilde Kschessinska was a Russian ballerina hailing from the Polish noble family Krzesiński. She was the daughter of Feliks Krzesiński, who danced in Saint Petersburg.  As a young woman, she married Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich of Russia. She later opened her own ballet school and trained students, such as Margot Fonteyn, Alicia Markova, and André Eglevsky. 

 48 
Natalia Makarova
(Ballet dancer, Choreographer)
Natalia Makarova
5
Birthdate: November 21, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
 49 
Marie Taglioni
(Ballet Dancer)
Marie Taglioni
3
Birthdate: April 23, 1804
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Died: April 22, 1884
 50 
Alina Cojocaru
(Ballet dancer)
Alina Cojocaru
3
Birthdate: May 27, 1981
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bucharest, Romania