When it comes to ballet dancers, few will ever come close to Pavlova. Not only was she one of the top Russian dancers at the time, but she also designed the precursor to the modern pointe shoe.
The toe-stand. The anti-gravity lean. The moonwalk. Michael Jackson may not have invented these steps, but he definitely made them into the iconic moves they are today.
Considered one of the greatest ballroom and tap dancers in film history, Fred Astaire’s name is practically synonymous with dance. He starred in over 10 stage musicals and 30+ film musicals (10 of which were with his equally-iconic dance partner, Ginger Rogers).
Contemporary dancers and lyrical dancers have one woman to thank: Martha Graham. In defiance of the rigidity of ballet, Graham pioneered the modern dance movement which prioritised expression and fluidity over strict technique.
Swayze starred in Dirty Dancing, which eventually became one of the most successful and culturally-significant dance movies of the 20th century.
Amaya is considered to be one of the biggest flamenco dancers in history. She was also the first female dancer to master the intense and fast footwork that only male Spanish dancers did at the time.
Called the ‘godfather of voguing’, Willi Ninja helped developed an entirely new style of dance, based on model’s poses in magazines. He appeared in Madonna’s music video for “Vogue” as well as the award-winning documentary Paris is Burning.
The Most Famous Dancers In The World Today
Even though Copeland only started ballet at 13, she quickly rose in the ranks. She’s now the principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre and has appeared on Broadway, So You Think You Can Dance, and in commercials for Under Armour, T-Mobile, and Dr Pepper.
Coming off reality TV show Dance Moms, Maddie Ziegler was only 11 when she starred in Sia’s music video for “Chandelier”. This resulted in dozens of TV appearances, magazine features, acting gigs, and brand campaigns.
French choreographer and dancer Yanis Marshall is most famous for his videos on YouTube, a stint on Britain’s Got Talent, and his work with Cirque du Soleil. Marshall wears high heels in a lot of his routines which is what sets him apart from other male dancers in the industry.
Magic Mike isn’t just a fun movie about male strippers, it’s actually a fictional retelling of Channing Tatum’s actual life story. The actor started out as an exotic dancer before breaking into Hollywood. Tatum’s showed off his skills in the Magic Mike films and the original Step Up movie, cementing his status as one of the top celebrity dancers of today.
Ukrainian Alla Kushnir (also known as Leila) is considered to be one of the most versatile and talented belly dancers in contemporary times. She’s performed all around the world, picking up a few awards in the process. In 2008, she snagged the title of Miss Bellydance of Europe.
‘Lord of the Dance’ Michael Flatley is a god among Irish dancers. He reinvented the traditional Riverdance and incorporated new styles and movements, bringing it to a more mainstream audience. He is also the Guinness World Records holder for the highest number of ‘taps’ per second at 35 times.
Asian-American hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez first rose to international prominence on the show America’s Best Dance Crew. They went on to win the first season and received a Living Legend of Hip Hop Award from Hip Hop International four years later. They perform in identical white masks so that the audience focuses on them as a collective rather than as individual dancers.
Most people know Sofia Boutella as an actress (with such credits such as Kingsman, Atomic Blonde, and The Mummy reboot), but she’s also an incredibly talented dancer. In fact, she started her career in dance commercials, concerts (as a backup dancer), and music videos. In 2018, she starred in the ensemble ‘dance-horror’ film Climax, a performance which garnered her a lot of critical praise.
Dance: A Marriage Of Art And Athleticism
Dance can be many things: a cultural tradition, a social event, a celebration, a performance, or a competition. The dance world today is especially demanding, combining the physical rigour and dedication of sports with the creativity and beauty of art.
Because of this, not everyone can become a professional dancer, much less a famous one. But that’s okay, because dance is also about self-expression and having fun – so dance away!