Ballet Dancers

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 Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland
10
Famous As: Ballet Dancer
Birthdate: August 31, 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.

 2 Mikhail Baryshnikov

Mikhail Baryshnikov
9
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.

 3 Rudolf Nureyev

Rudolf Nureyev
6
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.

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 4 Benjamin Millepied

Benjamin Millepied
8
Famous As: Choreographer
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.
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 5 Alexander Godunov

Alexander Godunov
4
Famous As: Ballet Dancer
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 Anna Pavlova

Anna Pavlova
4
Famous As: Ballet dancer
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.

 7 Martha Graham

Martha Graham
4
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.  

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 8 Margot Fonteyn

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

 9 Vaslav Nijinsky

Vaslav Nijinsky
4
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. 

 10 George Balanchine

George Balanchine
4
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.

 11 Michaela DePrince

Michaela DePrince
3
Famous As: Ballet dancer
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.

 12 Sergei Polunin

Sergei Polunin
4
Famous As: Ballet Dancer
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. 

 13 Galina Ulanova

Galina Ulanova
3
Famous As: Ballet Dancer, Choreographer
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.

 14 Amanda Schull

Amanda Schull
11
Famous As: Actress
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 Darcey Bussell

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

 16 Sergei Diaghilev

Sergei Diaghilev
4
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.

 17 Marius Petipa

Marius Petipa
3
Famous As: Ballet dancer
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.

 18 Svetlana Zakharova

Svetlana Zakharova
3
Famous As: Ballerina
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.

 19 Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief
4
Famous As: Ballet dancer
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.

 20 Alicia Alonso

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

 21 Leslie Caron

Leslie Caron
4
Famous As: Actress, Dancer
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.

 22 Debbie McGee

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

 23 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.

 24 Glynis Johns

Glynis Johns
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 5, 1923
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pretoria, South Africa

The veteran British actress who belongs to the Golden Age of Hollywood is known for her stellar roles in films like Miranda, Third Time Lucky and State Secret. Glynis Johns is also a singer, distinguished by her husky voice. She acted on the stage and the television. The daughter of actor, Mervyn Johns, has a son from her first marriage.

 25 Katherine LaNasa

Katherine LaNasa
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 1, 1966
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana

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.

 26 Maya Plisetskaya

Maya Plisetskaya
3
Famous As: Ballet dancer, Dancer, Choreographer, Actor, Prima ballerina assoluta
Birthdate: November 20, 1925
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moscow
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. 

 27 Yvonne Craig

Yvonne Craig
4
Famous As: Ballet dancer
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.

 28 Rochelle Aytes

Rochelle Aytes
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 17, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Harlem, New York City, New York

Actress and model, Rochelle Aytes, gained international fame for her role in the  ABC drama series Mistresses. An alumnus of the State University of New York at Purchase College, she began her career soon after her graduation. After appearing in commercials for several popular brands, she made her acting debut. She has since acted in many films and TV shows.

 29 Sonoya Mizuno

Sonoya Mizuno
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 1, 1986
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tokyo

Sonoya Mizuno is an English actress, ballet dancer, and model. She started her professional career as a model, working for world-renowned brands, such as Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. Thanks to her skills as a ballet dancer, which she learnt at the Royal Ballet School, Mizuno landed roles in dance films like High Strung, which kick-started her film career.

 30 Natalia Osipova

Natalia Osipova
3
Famous As: Ballet dancer
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. 

 31 Natalia Makarova

Natalia Makarova
3
Famous As: Ballet dancer, Choreographer, Ballet master, Actor
Birthdate: November 21, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg

 32 Julia Goldani Telles

Julia Goldani Telles
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 18, 1995
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

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.

 33 Alvin Ailey

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

 34 Sylvie Guillem

Sylvie Guillem
3
Famous As: Ballet dancer, Choreographer
Birthdate: February 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris

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.

 35 S. E. Cupp

S. E. Cupp
4
Famous As: Television presenter
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.

 36 Roberto Bolle

Roberto Bolle
3
Famous As: Ballet dancer
Birthdate: March 26, 1975
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Casale Monferrato, Italy

 37 Gabriela Rodríguez de Bukele

Gabriela Rodríguez de Bukele
4
Famous As: Educator
Birthdate: March 31, 1985
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: San Salvador, El Salvador

 38 Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp
4
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.

 39 Andrea Parker

Andrea Parker
4
Famous As: Actress
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.

 40 Langston Fishburne

Langston Fishburne
4
Famous As: Actor
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.  

 41 Isabella Boylston

Isabella Boylston
4
Famous As: Ballet dancer
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.

 42 Victoria Rowell

Victoria Rowell
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 10, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Portland, Maine, USA

Victoria Rowell is an American actress, dancer, writer, and producer. She is best known for playing Drucilla Winters in the popular television soap opera The Young and the Restless for which she received three Daytime Emmy Award nominations and 11 NAACP Image Awards. Victoria Rowell is also credited with creating the web television comedy series The Rich and the Ruthless.

 43 Alessandra Ferri

Alessandra Ferri
3
Famous As: Ballet dancer
Birthdate: May 6, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milan, Italy

 44 Olga Khokhlova

Olga Khokhlova
4
Famous As: Ballet dancer
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.

 45 Sir Robert Helpmann

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

 46 Diana Vishneva

Diana Vishneva
3
Famous As: Ballet Dancer
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.

 47 Robin Antin

Robin Antin
3
Famous As: Ballet dancer, Choreographer, Television presenter, Actor, Dancer
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.

 48 Ninette de Valois

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

 49 Frederick Ashton

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

 50 Kenneth MacMillan

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