Let us look at the below list of Top 10 Most Popular Dancers of All Time till 2016-2017. How could you put accomplished, world famous dancers in a category? Each has his or her own style and each is renowned for what they have brought into the lives of so many ambitious young dancers through the decades. Across time, they have taught us to believe in ourselves, even those who, on a dance floor in some forgotten city, appeared as though they were in the midst of a hornet swarm. Every dancer who ever aspired to waltz, jive, boogie or cha cha had to take the very first baby step.
Here they are, in no particular sequence or order, the top 10 most popular dancers, considered the best world wide.
1. Margot Fonteyn
Margot Fonteyn was an English ballerina who was considered as one of the greatest classical ballet dancers of all time. As a passionate dancer until she retired at the age of 60, she remained grateful to her mother who, when Margot was four, enrolled her for ballet lessons. She displayed an innate talent for dance and with her mother’s encouragement she joined the Vic-Wells Ballet School where she was trained by the likes of Ninette de Valois, Olga Preobrajenska and Mathilde Kschessinska. Fonteyn spent four decades with The Royal Ballet until she was appointed Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the company by Queen Elizabeth II. She formed very successful dance partnerships with Robert Helpmann and Rudolf Nureyev, developing a lifelong friendship with the latter. She made her last stage appearance in Nureyev’s 1979 summer season.
2. Anna Pavlova
Anna Pavlova was an extolled Russian prima ballerina who would become another of the most famous dancers of all time. Not considered beautiful, Pavlova, who as a young girl became fascinated with ballet after watching a performance, aspired to become a ballerina herself. Little aware of the rigors of dance, her arched feet and long, thin limbs rendered training particularly challenging. In the opinion of her teacher, Pavlova would not be a ballerina. With tenacity and determination, she trained under the best teachers of ballet to improve her technique and through discipline and hard work she became the world class ballerina she had dreamed of and was one who danced on stages all over the world.
3. Mikhail Baryshnikov
Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov, also known by nickname ‘Misha’ is a Russian- American ballet dancer. Regarded as one of the best male ballet dancers of all time, he is also a choreographer. From the age of eleven, he was training but his passions would have him exploring contemporary dance and his performances earned him popularity in the Soviet Union. He moved to Canada in 1974 and from there to the United States of America where he spent several years as a freelance dancer. He later became the dance director of the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. His career expanded and he has also made several appearances in television and film.
4. Fred Astaire
Frederick Austerlitz known unequivocally as Fred Astaire, was an American dancer, choreographer, singer, musician and actor who remains one of the best, if not the greatest, dancer of all time. Able to introduce emotion into his dance moves, he could combine elements of tapping, classical and ballroom with such fluid grace it was almost as though he floated on air. He could sing and sweep his dance partner white literally off her feet and was more often than not coupled with Ginger Rogers. Together, during the Great Depression whilst many Americans were struggling financially, he and Ginger Rogers wooed people from all over and gave them an opportunity to escape reality whilst they performed on stage. Rated as amongst the finest performers until his death in 1987.
5. Joaquin Cortés
Joaquin Cortés brought enormous passion, an element of lust and buckets full of sex back to the flamenco. He makes love through his dance and the language is exotic. At forty-four, Cortés remains single and states, “Dancing is my wife, my only woman.” With unstoppable determination, he cemented the Flamenco’s place in popular culture and has made it popular world wide. He tours around the globe and never fails to sell out places such as the Royal Albert Hall. He stomps, he taps and he stamps across the stage with a dark, haughty focus that alights upon swooning women. He exudes imperiousness when he dances but away from the lights he is as shy as a little boy.
6. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson admired the fluidity of dancers and would spend hours emulating the likes of James Brown, Marcel Marceau, Gene Kelly, and various classical ballet dancers. Although he failed to pirouette and tap dance, his determination paid off when he created his own unique style that is emulated by many aspiring dancers today. His most popular moves are well known, the moonwalk, circle, spin and the robot were combinations of many dance moves combined although it is popular opinion that he did invent the anti-gravity lean. His emotional balance came into play as he perfected the toe-stand and the spin which were moderated to suit his songs. With pure and raw talent, the world is highly unlikely to witness another dancer like him. He was one of a kind.
7. Sylvie Guillem
Sylvie Guillem made bold choices that reshaped the image of the ballerina. At the age of 49, she is still the highest paid female ballet dance in the world today earning a tidy $850 thousand per year. A French gymnast with a flexible body that afforded her extraordinary movements joined the Paris Opéra Ballet and later became a top-ranking female dancer. She danced solo in Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote and later became his dance partner then in 1988 as Britain’s Royal Ballet celebrated Nureyev’s 50th birthday, he danced in a production of Giselle and Guillem was given the title role. Her performance was overwhelming and thus she also became a permanent guest with the Royal Ballet.
8. Josephine Baker
Proclaimed to be one of the most successful entertainers in France and other parts of Europe she mesmerized audiences with her dance performances. Intensely beautiful, she enjoyed celebrity status for nearly 50 years. Nicknamed ‘Black Pearl’, ‘Bronze Venus’ and ‘Creole Goddess’, she was soon among the most popular and highest-paid performers in Europe, and received more than 1,000 marriage proposals. Racism was rife in the United States of America but when she served as a source of intelligence during the World War II, she put herself in a very dangerous position, gathering secret information about German troops, for the French Resistance. Baker died in 1975 and was buried with full honors.
9. Martha Graham
Martha Graham was the first dancer to perform at the White House. In a career spanning over half a century, she believed in emotional expression and dance was her vehicle. She revolutionized modern dance by creating almost 200 works as a dancer and choreographer. She could ‘talk’ through her dance, expressing emotions and inner most desires. She was an artist who shared her feelings with other dancers, painters, designers and musicians. She founded the Martha Graham Dance Company, which is today the oldest dance company in America.
10. Vaslav Nijinsky
Nijinsky could defy gravity. He could leap into dance steps with such magnificent ability he was deemed almost incredible. Remembered for dancing en pointe, a skill not commonly seen by male dancers, he had the agility of a gazelle. Nijinsky danced with legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova and then partnered with Tamara Karsavina, with whom he was referred as the “most exemplary artists of the time.” At 29 he retired from the stage and suffered a nervous breakdown. He was then later diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent the last years of his life in psychiatric hospitals and asylums. He died in London on April 8, 1950.