Ballet takes hours upon hours of extreme dedication and practice. Often ballerinas have to give up a lot to become the best and even then there is no guarantee of success.
Once ballerinas make it to the top ranks they are given a very special title in the company – known as the Prima Ballerina. While this title is bestowed on the best ballerinas, there is one more that is reserved for the ones who are truly unique and that is The Prima Ballerina Assoluta.
Here is a list of 5 of the most famous ballerina’s in the world. While there are many more from a long list of excellent performers, these are some of our favourites.
Anna Pavlova (1881-1931)
Anna Pavlova was the first world-famous ballerina to tour the world. As a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev, she was extremely influential, especially for her role in Black Swan which was choreographed for her by Michel Fokine.
Margot Fonteyn (1919-1989)
Born Margaret Hookham, the ballerina changed her surname, taking a version of her Brazilian grandfather’s (Fontes) when she joined the British Royal Ballet where she danced her entire career. She surprised everyone when at the age of 42 she formed a partnership with a much younger Russian Rudolf Nureyev and they danced together until she was 60 years old. They may have been the greatest partnership the world has ever seen.
Pierina Legnani (1868- 1930)
Pierina Legnani was an Italian dancer under the direction of choreographer Marius Petipa she played many defining roles including Cinderella, Swan Lake, and Raymonda. She is famous for doing 32 complete fouettes en tournant in Swan Lake – a first for any dancer. She retired at the age of 27 but continued to work until her death in 1930.
Nina Ananiashvili (1963-)
Nina is a Georgian ballerina and when she retired she became the artistic director of the State Ballet of Georgia. She first entered the Georgia State Choreographic Institute where she became to the attention of Moscow Choreographic Institute and convinced her parents to allow Nina to continue her studies there. There she flourished under her Soviet teachers before returning to Georgia.
Alicia Markova (1910-2004)
Born Alicia Marks in London in 1910 but she wasn’t destined to be a dancer. Her doctor told her she had weak limbs and should strengthen them by beginning to dance. After strengthening her limbs, she was invited to the prestigious Ballet Russe at the age of 14. She changed her name to sound more Russian and became one of the greatest dancers to perform, founding the Rambert Dance Company and dancing with the English National Ballet, the Royal Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre.