Ballet is a long-lasting elegant art form and is mainly associated with images of tall, skinny women wearing a tutu. However, their male counterparts are just as equally gifted and important.
Below are the 10 most famous male ballet dancers of the 20th century. Let’s check with City Dance now!
Top 10 World’s Most Famous Male Ballet Dancers Of All Time
10. Mikhail Baryshnikov
Mikhail Nikolayevich was born in Latvia during the USSR’s control in 1948, and he rose to become one of the finest male ballet dancers. He achieved this great level of achievement while evading the strictly banned and regulated art scene of the Soviet Union.
He obtained political refuge in 1974 when he was touring in Canada. Since then, he has never made another appearance in Russia and continued his career in North America. Eventually, he received the status of a US naturalized citizen in 1986.
Some of his hallmark roles include Apollo, Rubies & The Prodigal Son while he was the leading dancer of the NYC Ballet.
9. Roberto Bolle
Roberto Bolle, who was born in Italy in 1975, started studying ballet at 7.
He was enrolled in the gamed La Scala Theatre in Milan at 11. Rudolf Nureyev saw his incredible skill early on and selected him to play the role of Tadzio in the renowned Morte in Venice’s ballet adaptation. However, since he was too young at that time, the Theater banned him from accepting the role.
At 20, Bolle became the lead dancer at La Scala Theater in 1996 after his performance in Romeo & Juliet. Nevertheless, the Italian ballet dancer left that job to pursue a freelancing career only one year later.
Some of the ballets he has performed consist of Sleeping Beauty, Somewhat Elevated, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, etc.
8. Li Cunxin AO
Born in 1961, Li Cunxin is a former Chinese-Australia ballet dancer. Currently, he takes the role of the Queensland Ballet’s director.
Madame Mao, Chairman Mao’s spouse, decided to resurrect Peking Dance Academy in 1972 and despatched personnel into rural areas to select suitable candidates. Li was chosen at the age of 11 based on his build, despite having no prior dancing experience.
He was awarded 1 of the 2 artistic scholarships in the U.S. after 7 years of arduous, harsh training at Beijing Dance Academy. He spent 16 years in the Houston Ballet, where he rose to become one of the world’s top dancers, winning 2 silver and 1 bronze medal at global ballet competitions.
7. Frank Andersen
Frank Anderson was born in 1953 in Denmark. The former ballerino served as Royal Danish Ballet’s artistic director on 2 occasions.
From the age of 7, Anderson studied ballet at Royal Danish Ballet. He subsequently joined this company in 1971 and became a ballet soloist six years later.
With the help of Dinna Bjørn, Anderson founded the Bournonville Group. The company performed Bounonvilled’s ballets all over the world.
Some of his famous works in which he portrayed joy of life, humor, and charm are Geert (“The Kermesse in Bruges”), Puck (“John Neumeier: A Midsummer Night’s Dream). And Frants (“Coppélia”).
6. Stephen Baynes
Stephen Baynes, whose birth is in 1956, is a famous Australian male ballet dancer.
He was a graduate of the Australian Ballet school During his ballet dancing career, he had worked for the Australian Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet.
Since 1995, he has served as the Australian Ballet’s Resident Choreographer. In addition, he has developed works for various ballet companies such as NYC Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Queensland Ballet, and La Scala Ballet.
His extraordinary choreography talent has been recognized through many fam Strauss Songs, Ballade, Catalyst, Unspoken Dialogues, Molto Vivache, and Constant Variants.
Stephen also has a long list of accolades for Best Choreography at the Helpmann Award, Green Room Awards, and Betty Pounder Award.
5. Tetsuya Kumakawa
Tetsuya Kumakawa, and Asian male ballet dancer, was born in Hokkaido in 1972. He began learning ballet at 10 years old and traveled to the United Kingdom at the age of 15 to attend Royal Ballet School.
In 1989, he joined the Royal Ballet and became the company’s youngest soloist. Two years later, he was elevated to be the first soloist, then in 1993, to the leading dancer.
The Japanese dancer earned a gold medal and the Prince Takamado Prize at the Prix de Lausanne in 1989. Some of his prominent danced roles during his time in The Royal Ballet are Lead Mandolin Player (“Romeo and Juliet), the Bronze Idol (“La Bayadere”), and The Fool (“The Prince of the Pagodas”).
Kumakawa and 5 other principal dancers from The Royal Ballet formed K-ballet in 1998. Five years later, he founded the K-Ballet version for young dancers. Based on his innovative and unique interpretation and presentation of “Don Quixote” as well as “The Nutcracker”, he was awarded the “5th Asahi Scenic Art Prize” in 2006.
4. Wayne Eagling
The Canadian danseur was born in 1950. He rose to prominent international director and choreographer after spending over two decades as an important part of London’s Royal Ballet.
When he was a boy, Wayne Eagling was a talented classical ballet student. When he grew older, his teachers motivated him to seek professional dancing as his career.
At 15, the young male ballet dancer was discovered by Gerd Larsen and Michael Somes during the Royal Ballet’s tour in the US and given a spot at London’s Royal Ballet School. At the end of the sixties, he relocated to England.
During his professional career, Wayne Eagling has shown to be a great asset to the ballet company. His promotion to soloist took place in 1972 and to leading dancer 3 years later.
Some of his famous roles are in Balanchine’s Appolo and MacMillan’s Different Drummer.
3. Wayne Sleep
Wayne Philip Colin Sleep was born in 1948. He is a British ballet dancer, actor, choreographer, and director.
In 1955, he started studying ballet in Hartlepool, before receiving a scholarship that allowed him to enroll in Royal Ballet School six years later as the shortest male danseur.
In 1966, he joined the Royal Ballet, taking the role of a senior man dancer and performing globally.
Because of his special physique, there were several roles specifically created for Wayne Sleep by well-known choreographers such as Ashton, Nureyev, Neumeier, etc. He also originated the part of Mr. Mistoffelees in Cats, the musical by Lloyd Webber, in 1981.
2. Calvin Royal III
Born in 1988, Calvin Royal III is the 3rd black male ballet dancer that joined American Ballet Theatre as its lead dancer.
At 14, Calvin was suggested to audition for a dance program organized by Gibbs High School, then accepted regardless of his inexperience in dance training. Three years later, he won a scholarship offered by NYC’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.
Calvin became a dancer for the second company of American Ballet Theatre in 2007 and progressed through the ranks to get an apprenticeship with the ABT in 2010, a member of the ‘corps de ballet’ one year later, and finally obtained the soloist status in 2017.
Calvin and Misty Copeland made history in 2019 when they became the first black dancing duo in ABT history as a ballet’s leading role. Some of his outstanding roles are in Balanchine’s Appolo, Giselle, and Ratmansky’s Harlequinade.
1. Carlos Acosta
Carlos Acosta was born in Cuba in 1973. During his career as a professional ballet dancer, he had worked for numerous well-known dance companies including the ABT and the Houston Ballet.
His life story is quite inspirational.
Carlos had 10 older siblings and struggled to establish his name in a destitute household. His dad put him in a dancing school, funded by the government, to prevent him from hanging out with the wrong crowd. He discovered his love for ballet while studying there and graduated with honors and a gold medal.
In January 2020, he was named Birmingham Royal Ballet’s director as David Bintley’s successor. During his dancing career, he played Basilio (“Don Quixote”), Albrecht (“Giselle”), and many others.
These famous male ballet dancers are clear evidence that ballets are not only exclusively excelled by their female ballerinas, which is contrary to popular belief. In fact, the male dancers can also be elegant and talented in the type of dancing that is mostly associated with females.