Agnes DeMille (1905-1993)

Agnes DeMille (1905–1993) choreographed some of the biggest Broadway hits of the 1940s and 50s, such as Carousel (1945), Brigadoon (1947), and Paint Your Wagon (1951). In 1942, she was asked by The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to create a new ballet for the company, and she choreographed Rodeo (1943), which was a huge success. Following this triumph, Richard Rodgers and […]

Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948–Present)

Mikhail Baryshnikov trained with the Kirov Ballet in Russia, where he was a principal dancer. In 1974, he defected to the United States and instantly became a star soloist. After dancing for the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and the New York City Ballet, he became the director of ABT in 1980. Under his direction, ABT became a strong, vital […]

Alvin Ailey (1931–1989)

Alvin Ailey, an American dancer and choreographer, is seen as one of leading modern dance artists of the mid-to-late twentieth century. His company, the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, was the first black dance company to travel abroad, and he was regarded as a great ambassador for black American modern dance throughout the world. His most famous work, Revelations, […]

George Balanchine (1904–1983)

George Balanchine, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, had one of the strongest influences on American ballet in the twentieth century. Trained at the Imperial School, he began to choreograph a number of experimental works in the 1920s but was not well-received. In 1924, he was permitted to leave Russia, and he soon became the ballet master for Serge Diaghilev in Paris. […]

Martha Graham (1894–1991)

Martha Graham was one of the most influential modern dance choreographers, teachers, and dancers of the twentieth century. From 1926 to 1949, she choreographed more than 100 dances. Many of these dances were huge theatrical productions involving innovative movement, creative and sculptural set designs, and newly composed music. They made a fashion statement with innovative costuming and props. Some of the […]

Vaslav Nijinski (1889-1950)

Vaslav Nijinski (1889–1950) is said to be one of the greatest male dancers of the early 1900s. His ability to leap, jump, and turn left Parisian audiences breathless and contributed greatly to a renewed interest in ballet dancing in France. He joined Diaghileff’s Ballet Russe in 1911 and was the featured male soloist in the company. In addition […]

Serge Diaghileff (1872-1929)

Serge Diaghileff (1872–1929) was not a dancer but was an impresario (producer) of his famous ballet company, Ballet Russe, whose home was first in Paris and later in Monte Carlo. He employed Mikel Fokine and other choreographers and featured the leading dancers of the time. His contribution to ballet was extremely important. He brought together some of the […]

Michel Fokine (1880-1942)

Michel Fokine was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1880. He began taking dance lessons at the Imperial School of Ballet in 1889. He was an accomplished dancer but ultimately became famous as a choreographer. He was dissatisfied with the way ballet had become so stiff and uninteresting. He also felt that the choreography, music, and dancing were not […]