Three of the Most Famous Dancers of All Time

From the clicking playfulness of tap dancers in top hats, to majestic hundred-person scenes with Bollywood superstars, sequined pop singers or the incredible grace and athleticism of the greatest ballet dancers – the world of dance has produced many a famous figure.

Far too many of course, to whittle down to just four. But for the purposes of getting an article written and not pontificating all day, here are four of the most famous dancers of all time – and a little bit about them too.

Fred Astaire

Born Fred Austerlitz in 1899, Fred Astaire is widely regarded as the most influential pop dancer in modern history. Fusing ballroom dancing with traditionally black dance types such as jiving and tap dancing, Astaire created a style entirely his own. A huge perfectionist and an incredibly hard worker, he danced in over 31 musical films and a dozen Broadway and West End musicals during his 75-year career.

Some of his most iconic scenes include dancing on the walls during the movie Royal Wedding or tap dancing with his own shadow in 1936’s Swing Time. This is widely considered Astaire’s best movie, and certainly the best of his partnerships with famous actress Ginger Rogers.

Prabhu Deva

You may not have heard of him, but Prahbu Deva is one of the most influential Bollywood dancers and choreographers of modern times. In his 25-year career so far, the 46-year old has won two Best Choreography statues at the National Film Awards, which are basically the Bollywood equivalent to the Oscars, and has become one of the biggest names in Hindu and Tamil cinema.

Originally starting out as an actor in the late 90s, his star waned a little in the mid 2000’s and so he turned his hand to choreographing and directing. That seems like the right choice in hindsight, considering how successful he remains today.

Interestingly, Prahbu also became a meme for a while back in 2007. This was after a YouTube user took the music video for his hit song Kalluri Vaanil and translated it phonetically into English – with an extremely humorous outcome!

Anna Pavlova

If one name is synonymous with the art of ballet, then it would be the Russian legend Anna Pavlova. Uniquely among those on this list, Pavlova had a very hard start to her dancing career. As a premature child, she was often sick. Coupled with her long arms and legs (for a ballet dancer of the time), her appearance was ill-suited to the Russian style of this classical dance.

However, despite teasing from her earliest classmates, Pavlova persevered and eventually succeeded in becoming one of the most iconic dancers of all time. Her most famous piece, The Dying Swan, was first performed as an improvisation. She ended up becoming one of the first dancers to tour the world, performing that particular piece over 4000 times during her 35-year career. She died, just short of her 50th birthday, in the Hague, Netherlands as a self-made millionaire. Always the performer, Pavlova’s last words were apparently ‘Fetch my Swan costume’.

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