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The level of skill and determination ballerinas have is outstanding, but who are the most famous ballet dancers of all time? We’ve made a list of the top 10 ballerinas in the world, all of which have stunned audiences all over the globe with their elegance, talent, and dedication.
Here is our list of the 10 most famous ballerinas of all time:
Misty Copeland broke barriers in the industry in 2015 when she became the first female African American principal dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. After becoming one of the first famous black ballerinas, she went on to land lead roles such as ‘Coppelia’, ‘Le Corsaire’ and ‘Swan Lake’. The award-winning dancer also starred in a music video with Prince and has had several roles in Broadway shows and in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
Famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova was awarded a place at St Petersburg Imperial Ballet School in 1891, at the age of just 10. Although, she faced some physical challenges in her training such as her thin ankles that needed extra support for pointe work. However, that didn’t stop her, in fact she became one of the principal dancers at the Imperial Russian Ballet and toured the world dancing. She is remembered for her breakthrough role as the Dying Swan in Swan Lake, her last words before sadly passing away in 1931 to pneumonia were, “Get my swan costume ready.”
New York City based dancer Violetta Komyshan came across ballet when scouts held auditions at her school. She won a scholarship at age 11 to train with the American Ballet Theatre and later studied modern dance at LaGuardia High School alongside Hollywood actor Ansel Elgort. Today, Komysham is still known as one of the most famous American ballerinas of all time and is a social media sensation with just under 900K followers on Instagram. She’s also danced for BalletNext and is set to star in the Chicago Ballet Conservatory production of The Nutcracker.
You might have heard of the late Margot Fonteyn as she was considered the most famous ballet dancer in the world. Fonteyn was appointed a prima ballerina assoluta by Queen Elizabeth II and was loved for her lyrical style and perfect lines. Margot joined the Royal Ballet as a teenager, at 16, and starred in classical roles such as Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet. It’s thought that her paring with Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev in the ’60s, helped her show off her skills and become an international sensation.
Tamara Rojo has danced with both the Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet, where she was appointed artistic director in 2012. She is one of the most recognized faces in modern ballet; today you’ll find her dancing at the English National Ballet as a guest artist. Rojo was born in Canada, although she moved to Madrid with her parents where she trained, when she was only four months old. Over the years she has established a widely praised partnership with Carlos Acosta. Both dancers were recently reunited in Derek Deane’s production of Romeo and Juliet, in which Rojo’s perfect performance was critically acclaimed.
Natalia Osipova is a multi-award-winning Moscow-born ballerina who began dancing at the very young age of just 5. She trained with the Mikhail Lavrovsky Ballet School and has gone on to dance with the world’s leading companies, from the Bolshoi to the Mikhailovsky to the Royal Ballet, where she became a principal in 2013. As well as this, she is also guest dancer with several prestigious companies including the American Ballet Theatre. If that wasn’t enough, she has also won the National Dance Awards award for Best Female Dancer three times, more than any other female star.
Daria Klimentová retired from professional ballet in 2014, after her impressive 25-year career. She spent the last 18 of those years with the English National Ballet, where she became a principal in 1996. She has travelled all over the world in her dance career, from South Africa to Scotland, where she stayed in the early 1990s to join the Scottish Ballet.
Argentine dancer Marianela Núñez has been with the Royal Ballet for over 15 years and has won the National Dance Awards title of Best Female Dancer twice. She is well-known for her interpretative choreography, which brings an emotional depth and understanding to every step. Dancing has been a part of her life since she was a young child and as a teenager, she moved to London to join the Royal Ballet. Her determination and talent have led to her very successful career, dancing in all the major leading roles in both classical and contemporary ballets.
For almost two decades, Agnes Oaks was the leading face of the English National Ballet, along with her husband and dance partner, Thomas Edur. The pair met as children at the Estonian State Ballet School in Tallinn. It was with Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon that she earned universal acclaim and was awarded the Richard Sherrington Award for Best Female Dancer in her last season on stage.
Australian-born dancer Leanne Benjamin has also been given a De Valois Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her excellent contribution to dance. Benjamin has danced all over the world, with the Deutsche Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet, and the Wheeldon Company in New York City. She retired from professional dancing in 2013 after over 20 years of outstanding dancing. Benjamin flourished as a dancer into her forties, gaining recognition for her roles in contemporary productions and noted for her own approach to dancing which she describes as getting rid of the “tutu roles”.
Those were the 10 most famous ballerinas in the world, past and present, praised for their poise and elegance whilst dancing. If you’d like to find out more about dancing, we have plenty more articles for you, so you can be on ‘pointe’ with your knowledge.
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