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7 Most Famous Ballet Dancers of All Time


One of the more beautiful things about art is the variety of art forms that are available to an artist. Whether it be the most graceful of sounds created by a musician to the rawest display of emotion presented by an actor, there are plenty of ways for a person to give their message to the world.

The art of dance is no different, and there are a multitude of dancers in the world that can prove this. As we take a close look at the world of ballet, here are the top seven most famous ballet dancers of all time:

1. Diana Vishneva

Trained at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, Diana Vishneva proved that she had a bright and successful future ahead of her when she scored the highest scores in the school’s history. This famous ballet dancer also trained at the prestigious Marlinsky Theater during her last year at the Academy. Naturally, she joined the Marlinsky Ballet Company following her graduation in 1995.

Vishneva went on to win several high-profile awards during her career, including the Benois de la Danse. She also went on to become a member of the Honorary Board of Directors for the Russian Children’s Welfare Society in 2008, and was featured in the 2006 documentary known as Ballerina.


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2. Marius Petipa

Dance has been a force in the world throughout the ages. As such, each era has had their notable dancers. In the mid-1800s, the world had Marius Petipa, who is a famous ballet dancer incredibly well known for his groundbreaking performance of La Tarentule on Broadway in 1839.

He was also the Premier maître de ballet of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres. Adding to that, his career in ballet left him creating over fifty ballets, including such works as The Pharaoh’s Daughter, La Bayadère, as well as Le Talisman.


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3. Mikhail Baryshnikov

Art is a subjective medium, meaning that not every art form will appeal to every person. However, there are artists out there who manage to appeal to a wide audience of people across various performances. In doing so, the artist has a unique chance to bring new people to a medium that they would not have considered otherwise.

One famous ballet dancer to do this is Mikhail Baryshnikov. While being an excellent dancer of ballet, he also conquered in the realm of acting. From being nominated for an Oscar in 1977 for The Turning Point, to portraying a love interest in the hit television show Sex and the City, there is a good chance that he brought ballet into the hearts of many new fans, thus helping to grow the art in a meaningful way.


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4. Tamara Rojo

Born in Canada, but raised in Spain, Tamara Rojo entered the dance scene at the age of 5 when she began taking classes to hone her abilities. By the age of 11, she was a full-time student of the Madrid Royal Conservatory of Dance Real Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Mariemma. While it takes some serious linguistic skills to say the name of that school, alone, she still took academic classes at night to keep her mind as sharp as her dance.

The mixture of mental and physical prowess most likely helped her in her ballet career, as she went on to see great success, as well as many awards. Among these awards was a Gold Medal at the Paris International Dance competition. Rojo also went on to become a principal dancer of The Royal Ballet in 2000. As of today, Tamara Rojo is one of the most famous ballet dancers in Canada.


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5. Yuri Grigorovich

Originally performing with the Imperial Russian Company in the late 1930s, Yuri Grigorovich had an impressive ballet career that spanned entire decades. Before his retirement in 1962, he was a member of the Kirov Ballet, performing as not only a soloist, but also worked as a choreographer during his time there. Yuri Grigorovich is recognized as one of the most famous ballet dancers in Russian history.


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6. Rudolf Nureyev

Born in 1938 Russia, Rudolf had a life filled to the brim with success. He began studying ballet at the age of 11, and was clearly a successful student, as he was a professional dancer several years later at the age of 15. However, he continued his schooling at the age of 17 by attending the Leningrad Ballet School.
By the time he graduated, this famous ballet dancer was offered a soloist contract from the Kirov Ballet of St. Petersburg. He led an incredibly successful career until he took a director position at the Royal Ballet in 1977. Naturally, he continued dancing alongside his directing. All in all, Nureyev’s life was dedicated to the art of ballet, and he left his air share of marks on the history of dance during his time.


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7. Gillian Lynne

Dame Gillian Lynne wore many hats during her life. Ballerina, choreographer, actress, and director, among other titles. She danced her way through life, showing a natural talent from a young age and carefully building onto it as she aged.

Following World War II, Lynne joined the Royal Opera House as a dramatic ballerina and scored her first major solo in the premier of Sleeping Beauty, and on her birthday, no less. Dame Gillian Lynne went on to be associated with two of the most successful and longest running shows in the history of Broadway. One of the shows being the ever popular Cats, while the other was the hauntingly beautiful The Phantom of the Opera.


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