Top 12 Most Famous Ballet Dancers Of All Time
The Most Famous Ballet Dancers Of All Time
Table of Contents

Ballet dates back to the Italian Renaissance, when it was primarily used as court entertainment.

It has evolved over three centuries into a highly regarded art form in which true artists are free to tell their stories through graceful body movements.

In this article, ten famous ballet dancers have set new standards for ballet dancing techniques and elegance.

They are widely regarded as the best ballet dancers in the world, having received numerous prestigious awards and acclaim for their talent and dedication to the art form.

Who is a Ballet Dancer?

A ballet dancer is someone who practices ballet professionally or for personal enjoyment. Although the term ballet is used to describe the general dance style, there are many different types of ballet. Classical, neoclassical, and contemporary are the most common styles. The majority of the large national ballet companies specialize in classical ballet.

Female ballet dancers are commonly referred to as ballerinas. A prima ballerina was a term used to describe a ballet company's most skilled "stars." Premier danseurs were their male counterparts. These names have given way to a more gender-neutral classification system. Today lead dancers are called principal dancers, soloists, and demi-soloists, in order of their seniority and status within the company.

READ MORE: Top 15+ Most Prestigious Schools for Dancing in The US Today

What Describes a Good Ballet Dancer?

A good ballet dancer trains for years to combine grace, strength, and flexibility in order to perform vigorous ballet choreography that flows and appears effortless. Female dancers perform on pointe, wearing specially designed pointe shoes that position their entire foot vertically. Jumps, splits, turns, and contortions of the back and hips are required of both male and female dancers.

Ballet dancers train for many years to become good, with the majority beginning their ballet studies as children. Ballet boarding schools are popular places for older children and teenagers to immerse themselves in the craft. Ballet dancers have extremely toned but slim bodies because ballet choreography requires graceful, long lines and flow. Ballet combines dramatic storytelling with dance.

Ballet companies have recently placed a greater emphasis on encouraging healthy practices to prevent injuries and eating disorders, both of which are common in this physically demanding dance craft.

Ballet dancers who advance their craft, dare to try new things, and bring their own distinct personalities and dynamism to the roles they play can become legendary.

Top 12 Most Famous Ballet Dancers Of All Time

1. Yuanyuan Tan

Born: 1976

Nationality: Chinese

Yuanyuan Tan was born in 1976 and is a Chinese ballet dancer. Yuanyuan Tan, a well-known dancer, was slim and graceful. She began her dance studies at Shanghai Dance School and has received numerous international honors, including a gold medal and the Nijinsky Award at the 1st Japan International Dance Competition, as well as a gold medal at the 5th International Ballet in Paris. She was later selected to continue her education in Stuttgart, Germany.

Yuanyuan Tan joined the San Francisco Ballet as a soloist at the age of 18, and at the age of 20, she became the company's youngest lead dancer. She will celebrate her 25th anniversary as the company's longest-serving lead dancer in the summer of 2021.

2. Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991)

Nationality: British

Margot was an English ballet dancer with the Royal Ballet and the other half of the dynamic Nureyev-Fonteyn duo. Most likely, your image of a "prima ballerina" was formed by her iconic image. Fonteyn was the embodiment of physical control and obedience on stage, as she relentlessly continued touring during WWII bombing of England.

3. Janet Collins (1917-2003)

Nationality: American

Janet Collins is an award-winning African American ballerina and choreographer. Classical ballet, modern dance, and ethnic dance are all part of her repertoire.

She auditioned for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo company when she was 15 years old and was accepted.

However, in order for her to perform on stage, they asked her to dance with a white face.

She turned down the offer, upset, and vowed to improve her skills so that her skin and origin would not be overlooked someday.

Janet rose to prominence following her appearance at the Las Palmas Theater in Los Angeles in 1948.

4. Calvin Royal III

Born: 1988

Nationality: American

He received a scholarship to the summer program at Philadelphia's renowned Rock School at the age of 14, where he studied ballet for the first time.

He has since competed in numerous dance competitions and was later offered a scholarship to ABT's JKO School.

Royal danced in several notable productions while at ABT, including Serenade After Plato's Symposium and Swan Lake, where his poetic rhythm captured the hearts of the audience.

He's been a regular at the Vail Dance Festival since 2015. Furthermore, he is the dance partner of the world's most famous classical ballerina, Misty Copeland, in many ballet performances.

5. George Balanchine (1904-1983)

Nationality: Russian

George Balanchine is regarded as a founding father of American ballet. He was a co-founder of the New York City Ballet, the first American ballet school and company to compete with those in Europe. As a child, he studied music and composition at the Petrograd Conservatory, where he worked with renowned composer Igor Stravinsky.

Following a catastrophic knee injury, George Balanchine worked as a ballet master for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in Moscow until 1929. In 1934, he co-founded the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet with Lincoln Kirstein, where he taught dancers how to develop solid technique while incorporating his style.

6. Natalia Osipova

Born: 1986

Nationality: Russian

Natalia Osipova, a well-known Russian ballet dancer, was born in 1986. She is currently the principal dancer with The Royal Ballet.

Osipova began dancing at the age of five. She enrolled in the Mikhail Lavrovsky Ballet School when she was eight years old. She attended the Moscow State Academy of Choreography from 1995 to 2004.

After graduation, she joined The Bolshoi Ballet, one of the world's leading ballet companies, and was promoted to female principal dancer in 2010.

Some of her well-regarded performances include her roles as Nikiya, Giselle, and Gamzatti (La Bayadère), Kitri (Don Quixote) and Esmerelda, La Sylphide, Swanilda and Princess Aurora (Coppélia).

7. Mikhail Baryshnikov

Born: 1948

Nationality: Russian - American

Classic Sex & the City fans might know him best as his SATC character, art dealer Aleksandr Petrovsky, but Baryshnikov is best known for way more than just being another one of Miss Bradshaw’s flings. Baryshnikov, after defecting from Russia in the 1970s, married cinema to ballet unlike any other ballet dancer before or since. He’s been Oscar-nominated and continues to mesh the worlds of dance, theater, film, and TV well into his 70s.

8. Marcelo Gomes

Born: 1979

Nationality: Brazilian

Marcelo Gomes is a famous Brazilian ballet dancer who worked for the American Ballet Theater for two decades.

He first served as a member of the Corps de Ballet in the American Ballet Theater in 1997 and got promoted to soloist in 2000. In 2002, he was appointed as its danseur noble.

He impressed every member of the audience with his outstanding ability to convey emotion, the sheer joy of dancing, and tremendous grace when performing on stage.

Throughout his career, he has made numerous guest artist appearances worldwide.

He has danced with many of the world’s leading ballet companies including the National Ballet of Canada, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet, the Houston Ballet, and the New York City Ballet.

9. Marianela Núñez

Born: 1982

Nationality: Argentine-British

Marianela Nez began ballet lessons at the age of three. In 1996, she joined the Conlon Theater Ballet as a ballerina.

She was accepted into The Royal Ballet when she was 15, but due to current law, she could not work in the United Kingdom until she was 16. She instead enrolled in The Royal Ballet School.

She was promoted to First Soloist, the company's second-highest rank at the time, in 2000, and Principal in 2002.

She has played leading roles in works by world-renowned choreographers such as George Balanchine, Frederick Ashton, William Forsythe, and Kenneth MacMillan, both classical and contemporary.

10. Miyako Yoshida

Born: 1965

Nationality: Japanese

Miyako Yoshida was a Principal Guest Artist of The Royal Ballet in addition to being a principal ballet dancer with K-Ballet Japan. The Prix de Lausanne, which she received in 1983, was a watershed moment in her career.

She was accepted into the world-renowned Royal Ballet School after winning this award. She joined the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet in 1984 and was promoted to principal ballerina in 1988.

From 1995 to 2010, she worked for The Royal Ballet. She has since worked as a freelance dancer.

11. Anna Pavlova (1881-1931)

Nationality: Russian

Anna Pavlova is regarded as one of the best classical ballet dancers of her generation. She is well She is a Russian ballet dancer who is well-known for her creation of The Dying Swan. Anna Pavlova began her ballet training at the Imperial Ballet School at the age of ten. Her long limbs, sharply arched feet, and slender ankles were ridiculed at school because they contrasted with the petite and compact body form favored by dancers at the time. At the age of 18, she received her diploma and made her stage debut at the Mariinsky Theatre.

12. David McAllister

Born: 1963

Nationality: Australian

David McAllister joined The Australian Ballet in 1983. In 1986, 1989, and 2001, he was named senior artist, principal artist, and artistic director.

During his time with the Australian Ballet, he played major roles in Don Quixote, Coppelia, The Sleeping Beauty, Manon, La Sylphide, Onegin, Stepping Stones, and Romeo and Juliet.

In addition, he performed as a guest artist with the Bolshoi Ballet, the Georgian State Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, The Kirov Ballet, the Singapore Dance Theater, and the Birmingham Royal Ballet.


These ballet dancers, regarded as the best in the world, have received numerous prestigious awards and acclaim in recognition of their talent and dedication to ballet.The ballet dancers on this list have all worked hard to establish themselves as well-known ballet dancers in their respective eras.

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