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Top Famous Ballet Dancers February 15 2021

BOTH HISTORICAL and MODERN

Known as one of the most beautiful artistic expressions in the world, ballet has marked a great history throughout time. This dance, considered by some people as classical dance and by others as academic dance, integrates various disciplines such as music, plastic arts, stage design, costumes, mimicry, acting, even extraordinary stories. 

Many dancers have learned incredible ballet techniques and made their mark with the precision of their refined movements, but among the famous ballet dancers the following stand out:

Rudolf Nureyev

Nureyev, Rudolf - Signed Photo in Performance

Rudolf Nureyev Signed Photo

The Russian Nureyev represents an icon in the world of ballet. Born in 1938, he was a perfect dancer of both classical and contemporary dance, characterized by his charisma, extravagance and his suspended jumps and fast turns. 

In addition, he inspired many people through his choreography and triumphed internationally alongside Margot Fonteyn who became his artistic partner and with whom he played roles such as Albrecht in Giselle, Armand in Marguerite, and Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake. 

Unquestionably, Nureyev was one of the first famous ballet dancers to revive the prominence of male ballet roles, but due to the AIDS he contracted, his last appearance on stage was in 1992, a year before his death, in “La Vaiadera”, in Paris.

Anna Pavlova

Born in Saint Petersburg Russia in 1881, Pavlova was one of the most famous ballet dancers of her time because she had a delicate and slim appearance that was ideal for playing the ethereal roles of romantic ballets, and allowed her to stand out about the Russian dancers of that time who were characterized by being robust. 

 Pavlova not only changed the physical ideal of ballet dancers, but also had well arched feet, which allowed them to triumph in the roles played being one of the most famous The Death of the Swan. 

She also stood out in “the Swan Lake”, “Giselle”, “Les Sylphides” and “Coppelia” considered among the best classical ballets in history. Unfortunately, she died in 1931, just days before his 50th birthday, due to pleurisy.

Pavlova, Anna - Large Signed Photo

Anna Pavlova signed photo dancing

Duncan, Isadora - Signed Photo in Costume

Isadora Duncan - Signed Photo

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan, whose real name was Dora Angela Duncan, was one of the most influential American ballet dancers in the history of modern dance. She developed an innovative technique that was characterized by free, fluid movements, charged with passion, through which she demonstrated that it was not his body that danced, but his essence and in this way he broke the rigidity of classical ballet. 

Born in 1877, and from a very young age she had a dancing spirit, she was a lover of the beauty canons of ancient Greece, for this reason it was common to see her in her performances dressed in a transparent tunic, with bare feet, arms and legs, and with her long hair down. 

Despite the fact that his costumes were not well regarded by critics, through his dance and the use of concert music he convinced them of the original and passionate art that he represented. It should also be mentioned that Duncan is known as a dancer of pain due to her scandalous life when she lost her two children in a car accident and because of her tragic death caused by a scarf that adorned her neck which became entangled in one of the tires of the car that she drove in France in 1927.

Alicia Markova

Markova, originally named Lilian Alicia Marks, was a British dancer known for the ethereal lightness and poetic delicacy of her dance that made her a true ballet legend. 

Makarova was the first English dancer to perform, in full versions, Giselle, a choreography that brought her much fame, and the double starring role of Odette in "Swan Lake." In addition to the aforementioned roles, Markova also dazzled in the interpretation of "Les Sylphides", Dolin's version of the "Grand Pas de Quatre" and in the "Nutcracker." 

The public adored her, she was called "Little Pavlova" and they claimed that Markova was the best dancer who ever lived. In 2004, a stroke at a hospital in Bath killed her.

Alicia Markova - Signed Photo Dancing

Vaslav Nijinsky - Colorized Photo

Vaslav Nijinsky

It is impossible to talk about famous ballet dancers without mentioning Nijinsky. This Russian dancer and choreographer was born in 1889, he captivated many people with his extraordinary ability to use the “En pointe” technique, which consists of lifting the extremities of the toes. 

In his time, very few male dancers had this ability, which is why he is considered one of the most revolutionary figures in the world of dance and the best dancer of the 20th century. It should also be mentioned that Nijinsky was characterized by his impressive jumps that seemed to defy gravity and by the intensity and daring of his characterizations that allowed him to conceive a new form of dramatic expression in classical ballet far from the dominant traditional canons. 

Nijinski's talent was reflected through his performances in Fokine's works such as "Le Pavillon d'Armide", "Cleopatra" a ballet that represented an exotic fantasy full of drama, with sets that evoked a legendary Egypt, and a divertissement "Party". Another legendary success is attributed to the execution of a pas de deux in "Sleeping Beauty in the Forest" by (Tchaikovsky). 

Sadly, Nijinsky suffered a nervous breakdown in 1919 that ended his career, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia that gradually decompensated him until he died in London in 1950.

Margot Fonteyn

Margaret Hookham better known artistically as Margot Fonteyn, was a famous British ballet dancer born in 1919. Much of her life she developed as Prima Ballerina Assoluta in the Royal Ballet, a title that few ballet artists reached in the world, for what was one of the greatest dancers of her century.

Another outstanding aspect of Fonteyn's life was his pairing with one of the great icons of the ballet Nureyev, in the legendary performance of Giselle. They became the most exciting dance duo that has ever existed in the world of ballet since through their different performances they expressed their great serenity and ardent passion, which generated great attraction on the public. 

Despite the fact that Fonteyn was 19 years older than Nureyev, they were considered the most famous couple in the history of classical ballet. She retired from dance after his 50 years and died in 1991 in Panama.

Margot Fonteyn - Signed Photo Dancing

Marie Taglioni - Color Print, shown as Satanella, in a ballet by her husband.

Marie Taglioni

The greatest star of romantic ballet, Marie Taglioni, was a renowned ballerina born in Stockholm in 1804 to whom we owe the grace of dancing on pointe as she was the first dancer to perform the en pointe technique, as well as her diaphanous skirts. 

White became the popular "tutu" worn by ballet dancers. Marie was the daughter of the dancer and choreographer Filippo Taglioni, who performed the choreography "Les Sylphide" starring her and presented at the Paris Opera in 1832, which created the era of romanticism within ballet. 

It is also worth mentioning that Marie was the prima ballerina of the Academie Royale de Musique de Paris, danced in the acclaimed "Bolshoi Ballet" and was a pioneer in the also famous Pas de quatre. An extraordinary artist who achieved success from a very young age. Finally, she died in 1884 in Marseille.

Maya Plissetskaya

Plissetskaya was a Russian dancer born in 1925, she began her dances when she was only three years old and at 18 years old she managed to become prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, which gave her the title of prima ballerina assoluta (honorary designation of a dancer of excellent performance created in Russia). 

Plissetskaya's talent was revealed in roles such as The Death of the Swan that marked the beginning of her professional career, also thanks to her versatility she highlighted performances such as the double role Odile-Odette, Don Quixote, Carmen Suite (representation made for her) , standing out in "Swan Lake", which he repeated countless times. This famous ballet dancer is considered one of the symbols of classical dance due to her outstanding performances. Critics defined her with an overwhelming personality and her own unmistakable style. 

Another of her achievements in the world of ballet that should be mentioned is that she was one of the pioneers of modern dance in Russia.

Maya Plisetskaya - Signed photo Leda and The Swan

Vera Fokina and Michel Fokine in Karneval

Michel Fokine

He was a prestigious Russian dancer and choreographer born in 1880, who shared similar ideas to those of the legendary Russian businessman Sergei Diaghilev, which is why he joined him in his famous Russian Seasons that began in Paris. 

Fokine performed choreographies of the most important and innovative works of the genre in the 20th century, among which stand out The Firebird (1910), based on the popular tale of the same name, and Petrushka (1911), where in the background of the popular festivals in a fair theater the dolls suffer a drama of love and jealousy. 

 Among his most notable achievements are the stylization of ballets such as Scheherezade, Cleopatra, Daphnis et Chloe, and “El Gallo de Oro”. These works reveal his excellent knowledge of the nations, of their history, he reveals an erudition that few Russian choreographers had. In addition, he made the corps de ballet a participant of equal relevance as the rest of the participants on stage.

Fokine's total concept of dance and his innovations in choreography significantly expanded the frontiers of Russian classical ballet, creating new dance forms and movements that had an international impact.

Natalia Makarova signed photo in La BayadereNatalia Makarova - Signed Photo in Performance

Natalia Makarova

The American dancer of Russian origin, Natalia Makarova, considered one of the greatest dancers of classical dance, was the prima ballerina of the Kirov Theater Ballet. 

Makarova was born in 1940, in Saint Petersburg. Thanks to her brilliant dance technique through which she expressed great elegance and flexibility, she managed to successfully perform important works such as "Giselle", "Swan Lake" and "Sleeping Beauty", and was awarded the Gold Medal in the Varna Ballet Festival, Bulgaria, in 1965. Among his achievements, we must also add his participation in the “Royal Ballet”, in the “American Ballet”, as well as in “The Great Canadian Ballets”. 

In addition, Makarova has had a presence in major classical and contemporary ballet companies in the world such as The Classical Ballet of the Paris Opera, the National Classical Ballet of Canada, the Stuttgart Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet. In short, a famous and star ballet dancer.

George Balanchine

This choreographer of Russian origin, was born in 1904 and was the founder of the neoclassical style. At the beginning of his career, he performed important works, including Apollo and “El Hijo Prodigo”. Later, he created his own teaching method and established bridges between modern dance and classical dance, which is why he is considered one of the most famous choreographers in the history of ballet. 

 Balanchine innovated classical ballet, changing the great ballets for the short ones. In his neoclassical style ballet the shows were monumental in character and focused only on the technical expression of the dance, unlike classical ballet which pays special attention to the dramatic movements of the dancer. 

However, neoclassical ballet uses the same terminology and technique as classical ballet. It is worth mentioning that Balanchine's immense choreographic heritage astonishes for its contrasting diversity and variety of styles, forms and genres, as well as for its fast and impetuous movements.

George Balanchine in a rehearsal

Alicia Alonso signed photo

Alicia Alonso

Among the famous Cuban ballet dancers, Alicia Alonso stands out without a doubt. This Cuban, born in 1920, was a legendary classical dance dancer who inspired many because despite being partially blind due to having problems with one of her eyes, Alonso looked spectacular on stage. 

Alonso began her ballet studies at an early age with Nikolay Yavosrky at the Sociedad Pro-Arte Musical in Havana, and at the age of fifteen she continued her studies at the American Ballet Theater School in New York, where she met the dancer Fernando Alonso with whom gets married. From that moment on, he changed his surname to Alonso. 

 Alonso, achieved great successes, she was the first Western dancer to perform in the Soviet Union and the first American representative to dance with the Bolshoi and the Kirov in the theaters of Moscow and Leningrad. She founded and directed the National Ballet of Cuba until the end of his days. With her triumphs, she magnified her country and became the absolute first dancer and icon of classical and romantic dance in the world, in the 20th century. 

 Today, she is remembered worldwide for her wonderful performance of the ballet Giselle with the character of the innocent peasant girl, deceived and finally turned into Willy. Also, for her performance as Carmen, a ballet based on the opera of the same name.

Marius Petipa

One of the most influential choreographers and dancers of all time was Marius Petipa. He was born in 1818, although of French origin he came to be recognized as "the father of Russian ballet" and laid the foundations of modern classical ballet. 

Petipa was characterized by being very curious, as a result of his curiosity, he studied and worked in popular dances from many countries of the world, thus managing to increase the rhythms in his works and give them greater strength and vigor. Among his great works are Don Quijote, La Bayadera, Raymonda, La Bella Durmiente and El Lago de los Cisnes. He was the first dancer of the Teatro del Circo de Madrid, as well as the teacher of Anna Pavlova who was one of the most brilliant dancers in history and whom he helped to become the famous swan. 

 During his stay in Spain, he created some of his best known choreographies, among which Paquita stands out. Then he went to Russia where he spent most of his life, he created complete ballets with Spanish themes and dances, he was also hired by the Imperial Theaters and danced with all the dancing cousins ​​of the time. 

In total, he participated in more than 55 ballets, which definitely made him one of the great dancers in history until his death in 1910.

Marius Petipa colorized signed photo

Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn - Double Signed Photo in Josephine et Hippolyte

Ruth St Denis and Ted Shawn in "Josephine et Hippolyte"

Ruth Saint Denis

This American dancer, choreographer and pedagogue born in 1879, is considered along with Isadora Duncan as the founder of American modern dance. 

For several years she was a vaudeville dancer and marked the world of entertainment with her peculiar aesthetic inspired by the mysticism of the Egyptian goddess Isis that she observed on a cigarette billboard. In her artistic life, she collaborated with the dancer Ted Shawn with whom she married in 1914. From that moment, they introduced a new system of movements and together they founded the legendary Denishawn dance school in Los Angeles, which later became a company and where three great artists of modern dance were forged, these being Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, whom they inspired to found their own companies. 

Then, after the breakup of the marriage in 1931, Denis continued his career separately. Her most successful dances were those that showed some oriental influence, such as Nautch, Incense, Radha and Yogi. Denis was an innovative dancer who successfully combined her passion for dance with a keen interest in spiritual practices, a synergy that was reflected in her choreographies, working as well as in her teaching philosophy. 

Saint Denis' stage charisma shone for almost seventy years, she died of a heart attack in 1968.

 

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