10 Famous Male Ballet Dancers in History

Have you ever heard the term ballerino? While ballerina is the name given to a professional female ballet dancer, ballerino is the equivalent for male ballet dancers.

Here are 10 famous male ballet dancers who are known around the world for their talent.

1. Rudolf Nureyev

Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev was born in the Soviet Union in 1938. Many named him Lord of the Dance, and he was considered the greatest and most famous male ballet dancer of his generation. He was also a contemporary dancer and a choreographer.

He was one of the first famous male ballet dancers to take on leading roles in ballet, at a time where men were mostly performing in minor roles, only to support leading ballerinas.

 

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2. Mikhail Baryshnikov

Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov is another famous ballet dancer who was born in the Soviet Union, in 1948. He is also a dancer, a choreographer and an actor, but he is mostly known as one of the greatest ballerinos in the history of ballet.

He started his career in the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad, but he defected and obtained political asylum in Toronto in 1974. He kept dancing in Canadian and American ballet companies.

 

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3. Vaslav Nijinsky

Vaslav Nijinsky was born in 1889, in Kiev, which was then part of the Russian Empire. His parents were dancers, and he spent his early childhood touring with their company. He was 9 years old when he joined the Imperial Ballet School.

He was one of the first famous male ballet dancers who could dance en pointe without much efforts, and his dancing style was admired by many.

 

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4. Ivan Vasiliev

Ivan Vladimirovitch Vasiliev is a Russian ballet dancer who was born in 1989. At only 30 years old, he is already considered one of the greatest dancers in the world.

He has been performing with the American Ballet Theatre since 2012, and he is currently performing with the Mikhailovsky Theatre of Saint Petersburg. He has worked as a choreographer a few times, and his future looks very promising.

 

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5. Anthony Dowell

Sir Anthony Dowell used to be a ballet dancer, as well as the artistic director of the Royal Ballet. He was born in London, England in 1943. He is recognized as one of the great “danseurs nobles” of the 20th century.

He started his ballet training when he was only 5 years old. During his career, he created many memorable roles, and even did some costume design.

 

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6. Erik Bruhn

Erik Belton Evers Bruhn was a Danish ballet dancer, choreographer, artistic director, actor, and author. He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1928.

He joined the Royal Danish Ballet to learn to dance when he was only 9 years old. After dancing for England’s Metropolitan Ballet for 6 months, he returned to the Royal Danish Ballet and was promoted to the rank of soloist in 1949. He has appeared and performed in a few movies during his career.

 

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7. Benjamin Millepied

Benjamin Millepied was born in Bordeaux, France in 1977. He started training with his mother, a former ballerina, when he was 8 years old. He has also studied at the Conservatoire National in Lyon, France, and at the School of American Ballet.

He has performed with the New York City Ballet from 1995 to 2011, when he decided to retire. He is now working as a choreographer, and as the founder and director of the L.A. Dance Project.

 

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8. Carlos Acosta

Carlos Yunior Acosta Quesada is a Cuban ballet dancer who was born in Havana in 1973. He was the youngest of a family of 11, and his father decided to enroll him in a state-funded dance school to keep him from getting in trouble. This is where he discovered his passion for ballet.

He has been compared to Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev, and has been called the greatest male dancer of his generation.

 

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9. Michael Smuin

Michael Smuin was an American ballet dancer, choreographer and theatre director. He was born in 1938 in Missoula, Montana. He was also the co-founder and the director of the Smuin Ballet in San Francisco.

He has performed as the principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet, and he has worked as a choreographer for many movies and Broadway plays.

 

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10. Roberto Bolle

Roberto Bolle is an Italian ballet dancer who was born in 1975, in Casale Monferrato. He began studying ballet when he was 7 years old at a local school, and he joined the La Scala Theatre Ballet School in Milan at 12 years old.

He is the principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, and performs as a guest artist with the world’s best ballet companies. He has also been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF since 1999, and he has appeared in many fashion and style magazines, as well as in advertising campaigns.

 

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