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Ballet

United KingdomBalletDancer

Sophie Rebecca

Sophie Rebecca, born in either 1980 or 1981, is an English ballet dancer who has made significant contributions to the world of dance as the first openly transgender person to train on the Royal Academy of Dance’s courses for female dancers. Her pioneering journey within the ballet world has not only challenged traditional norms but has also paved the way for greater inclusivity and acceptance.

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South KoreaBalletDancer

Ji-young Kim

Ji-young Kim, born in 1978 in Seoul, South Korea, is a celebrated South Korean prima ballerina and principal dancer with the Korea National Ballet. Overcoming personal tragedy and setbacks, Kim’s unwavering passion for ballet and her determination to excel have made her an icon in the dance world.

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JapanBalletDancer

Yuriko Kajiya

Yuriko Kajiya, born in 1984 in Nagoya, Japan, began her ballet training at a young age and showed exceptional talent. She moved to China to further her training and won the Best Performance Award at the Tao Li Bei National Ballet Competition at just thirteen years old. Throughout her career, Yuriko became a renowned ballet dancer, performing in various classical and contemporary ballets and earning promotions to soloist and principal dancer in prestigious companies such as American Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet.

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JapanBalletDancer

Misa Kuranaga

Misa Kuranaga is a Japanese ballerina who has made a significant impact in the world of dance. Born in 1982 or 1983, Kuranaga began her training at the Jinushi Kaoru Ballet School in Japan before continuing her studies at the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York City. Her talent and dedication led her to join the San Francisco Ballet, where she started her professional career. Later, she became a principal dancer at the renowned Boston Ballet, making history as the first Asian person to achieve this position.

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JapanBalletDancer

Yumiko Takeshima

Yumiko Takeshima is a former Principal dancer with Semperoper Ballett, Universal Ballet, the Alberta Ballet Company, Feld Ballet, and the Dutch National Ballet. Her passion and talent for ballet led her to study at the San Francisco Ballet School at the age of thirteen. She danced with various prestigious ballet companies and established herself as a renowned dancer and designer. Takeshima founded her dancewear brand, YUMIKO, which has gained popularity among the ballet community worldwide. Her designs have adorned the dancers of renowned ballet companies, and she has received recognition for her exceptional contributions to the world of dance.

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ChinaBalletDancer

Faye Leung

Faye Leung, a prominent figure in the world of ballet, was born on March 18, 1979, in Shanghai, China. As the only child of a writer and a former businesswoman, Faye was exposed to artistic and creative expression from an early age.

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SpainBalletDancer

Lucía Lacarra

Lucía Lacarra, a renowned Spanish ballet dancer, has made a significant impact on the world of dance. From a young age, she displayed an extraordinary talent that led her to study under esteemed mentors and join prestigious ballet companies such as the San Francisco Ballet and Bayerisches Staatsballett. Lacarra’s exceptional skill, versatility, and dedication to her craft have earned her numerous awards, solidifying her status as one of the most significant dancers of her generation.

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Great BritainBalletDancer

Tamara Karsavina

Tamara Karsavina was a Russian prima ballerina and a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes. After settling in Britain, she played a vital role in the establishment of The Royal Ballet and became recognized as one of the founders of modern British ballet. Throughout her career, Karsavina was known for her exceptional technique, beauty, and expressive performances. She continued to inspire generations of dancers until her death in 1978.

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South KoreaBalletDancer

Kim Joo-won

Kim Joo-won, born on 8 May 1977 in Busan, South Korea, is a renowned South Korean Prima Ballerina. She has made significant contributions to Korean ballet and has left a lasting impact on the dance community.

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DenmarkActorBallet

Else Højgaard

Else Højgaard (1906-1979) was a Danish ballerina and actress known for her fiery temperament and edgy intensity. She made a lasting impact in both the world of ballet and acting, breaking boundaries and leaving a lasting legacy on Danish culture. From her debut in the Royal Danish Theatre ballet school to her notable performances on stage and screen, Højgaard’s talent and dedication continue to inspire future generations of performers. She was recognized for her contributions with prestigious awards, solidifying her place in Danish performing arts history.

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AustraliaBalletDancer

Leanne Benjamin

Leanne Benjamin, an Australian ballet dancer, began her passion for dance at a young age. With her exceptional talent, she joined the prestigious Royal Ballet School at 16 and quickly gained recognition in the ballet world. Throughout her career, Benjamin captivated audiences with her technical brilliance and emotional depth, performing iconic roles such as Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake” and Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty.” Her contributions to ballet were honored with numerous awards and accolades, leaving an indelible mark on the world of dance.

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AustraliaBalletDancer

Ella Havelka

Ella Havelka, born in 1989, is an Australian ballet dancer and the first Indigenous person to join The Australian Ballet. She overcame setbacks and discrimination to become a member of the prestigious company, making history and promoting diversity and representation in the arts. Havelka’s journey as a ballet dancer and her groundbreaking achievements have inspired aspiring dancers, Indigenous communities, and women everywhere.

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AustraliaAfrican AmericanBallet

Stephanie Kurlow

Stephanie Kurlow is an Australian dancer and ballet student often credited as being the world’s first Hijabi Ballerina. She was born to an Australian father and Russian mother and grew up in the suburbs of Sydney. Stephanie’s passion for dance began at the young age of two when she started taking ballet classes.

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ChinaBalletDancer

Yuanyuan Tan

Yuanyuan Tan is a renowned Chinese ballet dancer best known for her exceptional talent and captivating performances as the principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. Born on February 14, 1976, in Shanghai, China, Tan’s journey to becoming one of the world’s most acclaimed ballerinas is truly remarkable.

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GeorgiaNetherlandsUnited States

Maia Makhateli

Maia Makhateli, a renowned Georgian ballet dancer, has made a significant impact on the world of dance. Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, around 1986, she hails from a family deeply rooted in the art of ballet. Her parents, Nikoloz Makhateli and Marina Loladze, were both esteemed dancers at the Georgian National Ballet, and her grandfather was a notable folk dancer, while her grandmother was an opera singer. As the younger sister of David Makhateli, a former principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, Maia was exposed to the world of ballet from a young age and would soon find her own path in this captivating art form.

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EgyptActorBallet

Hanan Tork

Hanan Tork, a retired Egyptian actress and ballerina, began her artistic journey in ballet before transitioning to acting. Her breakthrough came when renowned director Youssef Chahine selected her for a role in his movie “El Mohager.” Hanan’s talent and dedication earned her recognition and nominations, and she has left a lasting impact on the Egyptian film industry.

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South AfricaBalletDancer

Phyllis Spira

Phyllis Spira (1943-2008) was a South African ballet dancer who left an indelible mark on the world of dance. Recognized as the first South African Prima Ballerina Assoluta, she contributed significantly to the development of ballet in her home country. Her remarkable talent, determination, and trailblazing spirit make her an everlasting figure in the history of dance and a true icon in women’s history.

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South AfricaBalletDancer

Nadia Nerina

Nadia Nerina was a South African dancer known for her technical brilliance and joyful charm on stage. She began her ballet training in Durban before moving to England to further her studies. Nerina quickly rose to prominence in The Royal Ballet, earning critical acclaim for her expressive performances. Her legacy as one of the greatest ballerinas of her time lives on through her impact on the world of ballet.

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DenmarkBalletBusiness

Louise Rasmussen

Louise Christine Rasmussen, also known as Countess Danner, was a Danish ballet dancer and stage actor who challenged societal norms by entering into a controversial marriage with King Frederick VII of Denmark. Despite facing opposition and never fully being embraced by high society, she remained a loyal companion to the king throughout his reign.

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AustriaBalletChoreographer

Katti Lanner

Katti Lanner, a renowned Viennese ballet dancer, choreographer, and ballet mistress, captivated audiences with her performances in Germany and England. Born into a musical and artistic family, Katti began her dance training at a young age. Throughout her career, she shared the stage with renowned ballet dancers and choreographed her own works. Known for her talent, technique, and innovative spirit, Katti left a lasting impact on the world of ballet. Although no official awards or recognitions have been documented, she is remembered as one of the most celebrated ballet dancers and choreographers of her time.

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AustraliaBalletChoreographer

Hélène Kirsova

Hélène Kirsova was a Danish prima ballerina known for founding the first professional ballet company in Australia. She trained in Paris with former dancers from Sergei Diaghilev’s ballet and went on to have a successful career with various ballet companies in Europe and North America. In Australia, she established the Kirsova Ballet and made significant contributions to the development of ballet in the country. Kirsova is often regarded as the “Godmother” of Australian ballet.

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New ZealandBalletDancer

Rowena Jackson

Rowena Othlie Jackson MBE, a former New Zealand prima ballerina, began her ballet journey in Invercargill. She went on to join the Sadler’s Wells Ballet in London and became a renowned prima ballerina. After retiring, Jackson returned to New Zealand and served as the artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet company, leaving behind an enduring legacy.

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United KingdomBalletChoreographer

Alicia Markova

Dame Alicia Markova DBE (1 December 1910 – 2 December 2004) was a British ballerina and a choreographer, director, and teacher of classical ballet. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest dancers of the 20th century and made significant contributions to the world of ballet.

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United StatesAfrican AmericanBallet

Lauren Anderson

Lauren Anderson, an American ballet dancer and former principal dancer with the Houston Ballet, broke barriers as one of the first African-American ballerinas to become a principal for a major dance company. Her talent and determination paved the way for future generations of diverse dancers, leaving an indelible mark on the world of ballet.

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RussiaBalletDancer

Avdotia Istomina

Evdokia or (informally) Avdotia Ilyinichna Istomina was the most celebrated Russian Empire ballerina of the 19th century. Her talent and beauty captivated audiences, and she quickly became the prima ballerina of her time. However, despite her immense success on stage, she faced personal struggles and financial hardship later in life. Avdotia Istomina’s legacy as a famous ballerina may have faded, but her contributions to the art of ballet and her impact on the Russian Empire’s cultural scene remain significant.

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ItalyBalletDancer

Barbara Campanini

Barbara Campanini, also known as La Barbarina, was a renowned Italian ballerina of the 18th century. With her incredible talent and flawless execution of entrechats, she earned the nickname “The Flying Goddess.” Despite a scandalous life that involved elopements and secret marriages, Campanini also dedicated herself to charitable endeavors, leaving her fortune to a foundation for poor noblewomen in her will.

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LatviaBalletDancer

Tatjana Barbakoff

Tatjana Barbakoff, a renowned ballet and Chinese style dancer, captivated audiences worldwide with her flamboyance, legendary beauty, and sharp sense of humor. Born in 1899 in Hasenpoth, Courland Governorate (now Latvia), she gained recognition for her solo performances and toured internationally. Despite facing tragedy and internment during World War II, Barbakoff’s remarkable career as a dancer continues to inspire young dancers today.

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ItalyBalletDancer

Carla Fracci

Carolina “Carla” Fracci was an Italian ballet dancer, actress, and ballet director. Born in 1936 in Milan, she overcame initial doubts about her body type to become a renowned ballerina. Throughout her career, Fracci performed with esteemed dancers and companies, showcasing her talent and versatility in both Romantic and contemporary ballets. She also made significant contributions as a ballet director, leaving a lasting impact on the ballet world. Fracci’s exceptional artistry was recognized with prestigious awards, and her legacy as one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century continues to inspire and influence the world of ballet.

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IrelandBalletChoreographer

Ninette de Valois

Dame Ninette de Valois was a remarkable Irish-born British dancer, teacher, choreographer, and director of classical ballet. Her contributions to the world of ballet extended far beyond the stage, as she founded the Royal Ballet School and the touring company that became the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Today, she is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of ballet and is often referred to as the “godmother” of English and Irish ballet.

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IrelandBalletDancer

Joan Denise Moriarty

Joan Denise Moriarty was an Irish ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher who played a key role in the growth of ballet in Ireland. Despite little information about her early life, Moriarty’s talent and dedication to ballet and traditional Irish dance made her a pioneer in the field. She established dance schools, conducted ballet classes, and nurtured young dancers, leaving a lasting legacy in Irish ballet. Her impact extended beyond dance, as she encouraged women to pursue ballet and challenge traditional gender roles. Moriarty’s contributions to the art of ballet were widely recognized and celebrated.

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FranceBalletDancer

Mademoiselle Parisot

Mademoiselle Parisot (c.1775-after 1837) was a French opera singer and ballet dancer known for her provocative costumes and dances that caused an uproar in London. Her influence on the arts cannot be underestimated, as she pushed the boundaries of artistic expression in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Parisot’s legacy continues to inspire dancers and performers to this day.

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FranceBalletDancer

Violette Verdy

Violette Verdy, a renowned French ballerina, was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet from 1958 to 1977. Her exquisite technique and natural elegance brought choreographies by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins to life. Verdy’s impact on the world of ballet extended beyond her performing career, as she also dedicated herself to teaching and choreography. She left a lasting legacy in the art form, inspiring future generations of dancers and choreographers.

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FranceBalletDancer

Marie-Anne de Cupis de Camargo

Marie Anne de Cupis de Camargo, also known as La Camargo, was a French dancer who revolutionized ballet in the 18th century. Known for her exceptional technique and vibrant energy, she introduced innovations such as using slippers instead of heeled shoes and shortening the ballet skirt. Her influence extended beyond dance, making her a style icon among the nobility.

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FranceBalletDancer

Yvette Chauviré

Yvette Chauviré was a French prima ballerina and actress, often described as France’s greatest ballerina. She had a long and illustrious career, making significant contributions to the world of ballet and leaving a lasting impact on the art form. Her dedication, talent, and artistic vision have left an indelible mark on the world of ballet, and her legacy as France’s greatest ballerina remains unparallelled.

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United StatesAfrican AmericanBallet

Janet Collins

Janet Collins was a pioneering African American ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Despite facing racial barriers, she studied with renowned ballet teachers and became one of the few classically trained Black dancers of her generation. She collaborated with Katherine Dunham and gained recognition for her talent. Collins became the first black ballerina to perform at the Metropolitan Opera and later dedicated herself to teaching. Her legacy as a pioneer of black ballet dancing continues to inspire dancers worldwide.

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United StatesAfrican AmericanBallet

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland is an American ballet dancer for the American Ballet Theatre and the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT’s history. Raised in Los Angeles, Copeland’s love for dance blossomed at age 13. Despite facing challenges and a custody battle, Copeland’s determination and talent propelled her career forward. She has become a beacon of inspiration, a best-selling author, and an influential figure in the ballet world.

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South KoreaBalletDancer

Hee Seo

Hee Seo, the talented South Korean ballet dancer, has made a significant impact on the world of ballet with her exquisite technique and graceful performances. Born on March 13, 1986, in Seoul, South Korea, Seo’s journey to becoming a principal dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre (ABT) is a testament to her dedication and exceptional talent.

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RussiaBalletDancer

Nadezhda Gracheva

Nadezhda Gracheva, a Russian ballerina, was born on December 21, 1969 in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. Her talent and dedication to ballet led her to become one of the most celebrated ballerinas of her generation. Gracheva made significant contributions to the world of ballet during her time at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, captivating audiences with her grace and artistry. Her legacy as a gifted ballerina and influential teacher continues to inspire and shape the future of dance.

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United KingdomUnited StatesAstronaut

Merritt Moore

Merritt Moore (born February 24, 1988) is an American ballerina and quantum physicist. She studied at both the University of Oxford and Harvard University. Moore works to combine her interests in physics and ballet through her research and dedication in both the arts and sciences.

Moore has a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Harvard University and a PhD in Atomic and Laser Physics from the University of Oxford. She has danced professionally for many ballet companies across the world including the English National Ballet and Norwegian National Ballet. Moore has performed in Swan Lake and The Nutcracker among other ballets.

She was featured as one of the contestants on BBC’s ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?’ in 2017. Moore has also been recognized as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and was featured in Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women competition. She has spoken at TEDxOxbridge in 2013 and performed a ballet duet with dance partner Adam Kirkham.

In addition to her achievements in both ballet and physics, Moore started SASters – a group that encourages women to pursue their dreams in the arts and sciences. Currently, she is completing her residency at Harvard University’s ArtLab where her work combines science and dance through the use of robots.

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United StatesBalletDancer

Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief, America’s first major prima ballerina, revolutionized ballet with her talent and passion. As a member of the Osage Nation, she also became the first Native American to hold such a prestigious rank. Her mesmerizing performances and international tours earned her respect and admiration worldwide, leaving an indelible mark on the art form’s history. Tallchief’s contributions to ballet are celebrated and her legacy endures.

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FranceUnited StatesBallet

Rosella Hightower

Rosella Hightower was an American ballerina and member of the Choctaw Nation who achieved fame in both the United States and Europe. With her dedication and talent, she became known as the “newest star on the ballet horizon,” leaving a lasting impact on the world of dance.

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United StatesAfrican AmericanBallet

Debra Austin

Debra Austin, born in 1955, made history as the first African-American female principal dancer of a major American ballet company. Talent recognized at a young age, she caught the attention of George Balanchine and joined the New York City Ballet. Her international career included roles as a soloist with the Zurich Ballet and as a principal dancer with the Pennsylvania Ballet, breaking down racial barriers in the arts. After retiring from performing, Austin transitioned into teaching, nurturing the next generation of dancers.

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United KingdomBalletDancer

Margot Fonteyn

Dame Margaret Evelyn de Arias DBE, known as Margot Fonteyn, was a celebrated English ballerina who left an indelible mark on the world of dance. From a young age, Fonteyn displayed a deep love for ballet and quickly rose to become one of the most influential and admired dancers of her time. Throughout her career, she forged close partnerships, embraced television, and captivated audiences with her exceptional technique and ability to bring characters to life. Fonteyn’s partnership with Rudolf Nureyev proved to be one of the most transformative collaborations in ballet history.

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RussiaActorBallet

Maya Plisetskaya

Maya Plisetskaya was a renowned Soviet and Russian ballet dancer, choreographer, ballet director, and actress. Despite facing tragedy and political repression in her early years, she became one of the most celebrated ballerinas of the 20th century. Plisetskaya captivated audiences around the world with her talent and artistry, pushing the boundaries of traditional ballet and leaving an immeasurable impact on the art form.

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RussiaBalletDancer

Galina Ulanova

Galina Sergeyevna Ulanova, born in 1910 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was a renowned Russian ballet dancer. Raised in a family of dancers, Ulanova’s destiny was shaped by her early exposure to ballet. Her talent was recognized from a young age, and she went on to become one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century. Throughout her career, Ulanova received numerous awards and honors for her remarkable contributions to the arts. She passed away in 1998, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire dancers around the world.

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RussiaBalletChoreographer

Sofia Golovkina

Sofia Nikolayevna Golovkina, also known as Sophia Golovkina, was a notable ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher from Soviet Russia. Golovkina embarked on a remarkable journey that would leave an indelible mark on the world of ballet. Her talent and dedication propelled her to become the principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet, a position she held until 1959. Golovkina’s contributions to the world of ballet were recognized with numerous accolades, including the prestigious title of People’s Artist of the USSR in 1973. She passed away in 2004, leaving behind a remarkable legacy that continues to inspire dancers and audiences alike.

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RussiaBalletDancer

Anna Pavlova

Anna Pavlovna Pavlova, born in 1881 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was a Russian prima ballerina who achieved fame in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is best known for her iconic role as The Dying Swan and for her world tours with her own ballet company. Despite facing physical obstacles and personal challenges, Pavlova’s dedication to her art form and groundbreaking achievements continue to inspire and influence the world of ballet to this day.

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ItalyBalletDancer

Lucia Cormani

Lucia Cormani was a 19th and early 20th-century Italian ballet dancer and one of the founders of the Royal Academy of Dance. Although her life is not well-documented, she made significant contributions to the world of ballet and left a lasting impact on the art form.

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ItalyBalletDancer

Giovanna Bassi

Giovanna Bassi (1762–1834) was an Italian ballerina who spent the majority of her career in Sweden. She was regarded as the prima donna of the Swedish Ballet during the Gustavian age. Her technique was entirely according to the classic Italian style of ballet, and she was capable of performing the hardest movements within this style. Bassi became a prominent figure in the world of ballet and was not only a talented dancer but also a mentor for many Swedish dancers.

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ItalyBalletDancer

Amalia Brugnoli

Amalia Brugnoli (1802–1892) was an Italian ballerina who played a significant role in the development and popularization of the pointe technique in ballet. Her use of this technique was groundbreaking and paved the way for future ballerinas to explore the possibilities of ballet on pointe. Brugnoli’s legacy extends beyond her technical accomplishments, as she challenged societal norms and expectations by embodying strength and athleticism in her performances. Her contributions continue to inspire and shape the art form to this day.

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DenmarkBalletChoreographer

Emilie Walbom

Emilie Walbom, a Danish ballet dancer and choreographer, had an illustrious career with the Royal Danish Ballet. Despite not fitting the physical standards of a prima ballerina, Walbom’s talent as an actress and mime artist was widely recognized. She became the first female choreographer of the ballet company and made significant contributions, including her masterpiece “Drømmebilleder.” Additionally, Walbom’s legacy lives on through her mentorship of future generations of dancers.

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DenmarkBalletDancer

Margrethe Schall

Anna Margrethe Schall, born in Denmark in 1775, was a renowned Danish ballerina known for her expressful mimique and exceptional agility. Despite not conforming to traditional beauty standards, Schall left a significant impact on the world of ballet. Her career spanned several decades, and she retired in 1827, leaving behind a legacy that would shape the future of Danish ballet.

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DenmarkBalletDancer

Johanne Rosing

Johanne Cathrine Rosing, born in 1756, overcame humble beginnings to become a renowned Danish stage actress and ballet dancer. Despite never learning to read or write, Rosing’s natural talent and dedication propelled her to success in the world of performing arts. Known for her memorable portrayal of motherly characters, she left behind a lasting legacy and inspired future generations of performers. Rosing passed away in 1853 and was laid to rest in the Asminderød Cemetery in Fredensborg.

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BrazilBalletChoreographer

Mercedes Baptista

Mercedes Baptista, a prominent Brazilian ballet dancer and choreographer, shattered barriers and left a lasting impact on the cultural landscape of Brazil. Despite facing discrimination, she became the first black woman to join the ballet corps of Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro and went on to create the Afro-Brazilian ballet, showcasing the influence of African culture on Brazilian dance. Her determination and resilience continue to inspire and empower artists today.

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United StatesAsian AmericanBallet

Georgina Pazcoguin

Georgina Pazcoguin is an American ballerina who has made a significant impact in the dance world. Born and raised in Altoona, Pennsylvania, she possesses a unique background as a biracial individual with an Italian mother and a father who immigrated from the Philippines after completing medical school. Growing up in a family of six siblings, Pazcoguin began her ballet training at the Allegheny Ballet Academy at the age of four. Additionally, she studied African, tap, and jazz dance, showcasing her versatility even from an early age.

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AlgeriaFranceBallet

Mariquita

Mariquita, also known as Madame Mariquita, was an Algerian-born dancer who became a successful choreographer and ballet mistress in Paris from the 1870s to 1920. She modernized French ballet, creating nearly 300 ballets in her career. Although not well-documented, her contemporaries considered her one of the best choreographers of her time.

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