12 Most Famous Ballet Dancers in History 12 Most Famous Ballet Dancers in History

12 Most Famous Ballet Dancers in History

story by Danceus Staff for DanceUs.org

When it comes to the most famous ballet dancers in history, four names stand out: Nijinsky, Fokine (Fokin), Nureyev and Baryshnikov are always first to be named. However, there are several others who should also be considered "most famous." Here they are: 


Marius Petipa

Marius Petipa was the most influential Russian and French dancer of the mid 1800s. He is well known for his performances in the U.S. for his performance of "La Tarentule" on the Broadway stage in 1839. Unfortunately, there are no videos available of his performances as a dancer. There are, however, videos of the Petipa's actual performances. Here is a videos of his choreography:


Andre Eglevsky

Andre Eglevsky was born in Moscow, Russia and entered dance as a danseur from 1930 to 1932. He was member of the Diaghilev's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and later ABT in its infancy. He later created his own Eglevsky Ballet Company.


Louis Merante

Louis Merante was a premier danseur with the Paris Opera in the 1866 production of "La Source" in which he portrayed the role of Djemil. His greatest performing strengths were in mime and dance technique. Here is a video of LE PAPILLON, 1860, with Carla Fracci as Emma Livry and Michael Denard as Louis Merante:


Yuri Grigorovich

Yuri Grigorovich first performed with the Imperial Russian Company in the late 1930s. He also was a member of Kirov Ballet for 30 years, retiring in 1962 from Kirov. He performed as a soloist with the Kirov and later began staging and choreographing "The Stone Flower" and "The Nutcracker Suite." Much of his talent is seen in his choreography. There are no videos of his dance performances but here is one with his choreography: 


Yuri Solviev

Like his predecessor, Yuri Grigorovich, Yuri Solviev was also a Kirov danseur. This Leningrad-born dancer partnered the famed, Natalia Markova. He is most recognized for his performance in "La Corsair."


Alexander Godunov

Alexander Godunov's began his career in Riga, the Soviet Union, in 1958. He became a member of the famed Bolshoi in 1971. His classmate was Mikhail Baryshnikov. Godunov is remembered for his request for U.S. asylum, granted by then president, Jimmy Carter. He won a Gold Medal at the Moscow International Competition. 


Michael Smuin

Of world class dancers, Michael Smuin is most remembered for his performances with the San Francisco Dance Company. He is considered a dance pioneer in the U.S. for his talent for his innovative style with classical technique. Here is a video of  Michael Smuin's choreography performed by Marjorie Grundvig and Lee bell: 


Vladimir Pavlovich Burmeister

Vladimir Burmeister was born in Belarus, Russia. He began his dance history with studies at Lermontov School in Moscow. In 1930, he became a soloist with the Moscow Art Theater. Though there are no video of actual Burmeister performances, his choreography of "Black Swan" are testament to his dance skills: 

Goes without words:

Vaslav Nijinsky


Mikhail Fokine (Fokin)


Rudolf Nureyev​


Mikhail Baryshnikov

Fame is not the objective of dancers who managed to make their art a lifetime career. It is the longevity of their dance reputations and their growth within their particular dance form. 


recommend recommended 0 members recommended





Learn More in Our Media Kit >

Unfortunately we no longer offer Free plans. Our membership fees are non-refundable as per our Terms.
These fees help us maintain & run our site!

Please upgrade your plan to "Organizer" to Add Your School or Venue and Unlimited Events!

< Go Back

Please upgrade QUANTITY in your "Organizer" PLAN to ADD More Schools!

< Go Back


An error has occurred