Famous Russian Ballet Dancers That Changed Ballet Forever

Most people believe that these six magnificent and famous Russian Ballet Dancers have marked the progress of Russian Ballet Dancing during the twentieth century.

Each of these famous Russian Ballet Dancers has in some way laid the groundwork for the further development of the art of ballet dancing worldwide.

Each of these Russian ballerina’s has in her own way expressed her own personality, rather than conforming to the narrow technical professional sphere that was expected of them.

Famous Russian Ballet Dancers

Anna Pavlova

Anna Pavlova who indeed was legendary holds a high place amongst these Russian ballerinas.  Although she was trained in the strict style of the St Petersburg ballet, she lent great emotional freedom to ballet dancing and in turn made ballet dancing more expressive.  Pavlova showed the world that there were different ways of interpreting different dance pieces.

Anna Pavlova was closely followed by Olga Spesivtseva and Marina Semenova.

Olga Spesivtseva

Olga Spesivtseva danced in Russia for only a few years before she moved abroad in 1924.  She danced in a time when there were great debates about the choreography and the necessity of ballet for the new Soviet audiences.

She led the way as a prima ballerina for the Maryinsky Theatre and contributed towards the preservation of the rich classical heritage and traditions.  She created beauty amongst the violence and destruction of the times.  She was a great tragic ballerina, and she revived the romantic styles of ballet.famous Russian ballet dancers

Marina Semenova

Marina Semenova joined the Kirov as it is known today in 1925 and introduced new qualities into classical ballet dancing.

She seemed to have endless energy and broad and free movements in her dancing.

Semenova’s dancing was forceful and joyful but still remained faithful to the classical style.

Her style demonstrated that there were unlimited possibilities for the classical style, even with the new social situation.

Galina Ulanova

Galina Ulanova brought success to the ballet theatre in the 1930’s and 1940’s with her brilliant performances.  She brought remarkable psychological precision and emotions to all the parts that she danced.

“Great book this woman was a legend in her lifetime and best of all she was a genius. She was the greatest ballerina of the 20th century,’. ‘Her life and the art of dance to which she has given her soul has become part of Russian and world culture. Ulanova has always been for us the symbol of conscience, honor, and dignity. She was a true artist.”

This book all about the life of Galina Ulanova is available for purchase online. Simply click on the book to find out more.

Maya Plisetskaya

Maya Plisetskaya was daring and defiant and she brought with her a radical change in public sentiments during the 1950s and 1960s.

She had unique natural endowments and although she remained loyal to the traditions of classical ballet, she never limited herself and brought about free thinking as the essential principles for a creative individual.

Natalia Bessmertnova

In the 1970s and 1980s, Natalia Bessmertnova marked the new era in classical ballet dancing.

This photograph to the left originates from the International Magazine Services photo archive of famous Russian ballet dancers.

IMS was an editorial photo archive in Scandinavia founded in 1948 but evolved from older archives that have images in the collection too.

The archive is in great condition and been in storage for a long time and the images in the collection are now being sold off one by one.

The images in this archive were distributed in only 10-15 copies around the world at the time and many copies have been lost or damaged during this time.

Each copy from the collection is therefore very rare and unique. These kind of rare images are not only a great thing to own but also a great investment.

Own a piece of history with this great photography memorabilia by clicking on the photograph above. By purchasing a photo from IMXPIX Images, copyright does not transfer. We are selling these photos as collectibles only and no copyright is implied.

Bessmertnova absorbed Spesivtseva’s romanticism, Pavlova’s musical expressiveness, Semenova’s broad dancing and the lyricism of Ulanova.

Natalia Bessmertnova has brought the art of ballet dancing to a culmination.  Her dancing stands out even against her predecessors, for its individuality and originality.

15 thoughts on “Famous Russian Ballet Dancers That Changed Ballet Forever”

  1. Great Content and InformationThanks for this concise and thorough article on famous russian ballet dancers. I have always been a fan of Anna Pavlova and Marina Semenova because of their unique way of dancing. 

    I have also heard about other dancers enlisted in your article but I have never watched their videos and dance steps before. Thanks for sharing this lovely article with us

  2. Hello Michel,

    I just read your article on Famous Russian Ballet Dancers That Changed Ballet Forever. In your article, you described the ballet dancers, their dancing styles and their description. You discussed Anna Pavlova, Olga Spesivtseva, Marina Semenova, Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya and Natalia Bessmertnova. I appreciate your good work because it gives lots of information and I found it all very interesting. Thank you so much.

  3. Hi Michel, very interesting article about famous Russian Ballet Dancers. I heard many times about famous Russian Ballet, in Russia the Ballet has very traditional and important role in their culture. I didn`t know for all those dancers but their life stories seems very inspiring. It would be amazing to read one of those books from each one of them, thanks for sharing with us!

    • I have tried to provide links where I have written in more detail about the dancers and will be adding in the others soon.

      Thanks for the comment.

  4. Ballet is a beautiful dance form that I can watch for hours. 

    To read how the Russian dancers changed ballet forever truly is amazing. They all took a leap of faith and found new ways to relate expression in emotion to their audiences. That along with the movement that became the game changer that ballet really needed. I applaud you for this wonderful post.

  5. That was a great history of Anna pavlova. Creativity and gifts did not start today. People have been talented right from the time of old and that’s what the story of Anna reveals to me. She was actually a great woman to have possessed such great skills to create an unending history in her world. 

  6. Thanks for this informative post although ballet dancing doesn’t originate from Russia but we can tell for sure that it came from France to Russia. As one of the main trademarks of Russian culture, ballet has a special place in the hearts of most Russians, though I’m not from Russia it is interesting to know the famous ballet dancers I haven’t heard about before and the ones I have with the likes of Natalia Bessmertnova and Anna Pavlova who had a place in the ballet Russes in Sergei Diaghilev.

    I must say this was worth my time, Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment Seun. I always find 20th century history very interesting, especially when it comes to the arts.

  7. Thank you for sharing the history of these ballet dancers. I used to take ballet when I was younger but it fell through since I was so young. 

    But I know about the two most famous ballet companies, Bolshoi and Kirov. I am currently live in NYC and some of my friends do for ballet school here like Ballet arts. This portrait will be a nice idea for gifts when their birthday comes around. Thanks!

  8. Hi Michel,

    Thank you for sharing this great informational article about famous Russian Ballet Dancers. it is really a nice post. 

    This is the first time I am hearing about these Russian Ballet Dancers. This is the first time I read about them. I was very interested to know about famous Russian Ballet Dancers. I’ve bookmarked your article for read again.

  9. I have more knowledge of famous Russian Ballet Dancers now that I have read this dancers forum. 

    Starting with Anna Pavlova in the early 20’s her contribution towards the preservation of the rich classical heritage and traditions. Olga Spesivtseva danced in a time when there were great debates about the choreography and the necessity of ballet for the new Soviet audiences. Marina Semenova showed that there were unlimited possibilities for the classical style. 

    Galina Ulanova the Greatest. Maya Plisetskaya during the 1950s and 1960s. Natalia Bessmertnova in the 1970’s and 1980.s marked the new era in classical ballet dancing.

    The photograph in the article. is a piece of history and would be great to own.

    This article is very informative on Russia Ballet Dancers and should go over well. 


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