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Famous Ballroom Dancers of All Time

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Famous Ballroom Dancers
07 Jun, 2024

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Ballroom dance traces its origins to the European courts and social gatherings. With rhythmic and precise dance movements, this dance form showcases elegance. From Fred Astaire’s graceful charm to Peta Murgatroyd’s mesmerizing performances, famous ballroom dancers have left an impressionable mark on the world of dance.

In this comprehensive guide, we enlist the most famous ballroom dancers of all time, highlighting their contributions to the world of ballroom dance.

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10 Famous Ballroom Dancers

1: Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire
An image credit example from a Fred Astaire Dance Studio

Born: 10 May 1899, Omaha, Nebraska, United States

Died: 22 June 1987, Los Angeles, California, United States

Awards/Accreditations:

  • Academy Honorary Award in 1949 for his unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures
  • Kennedy Center Honors in 1978
  • Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989
  • Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1985

Fred Astaire is regarded as one of the most significant and famous ballroom dancers. His career in stage, film, and television spanned over 76 years, with more than 10 Broadway and West End musicals, 31 musical films, four television specials, and several recordings. His elegant yet uncanny sense of ballroom dancing revolutionized the art form in popular culture.

Furthermore, Astaire was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame (1972) and the Television Hall of Fame (1989). His impact on ballroom dancing and his contributions to popularizing it are still prominent today in modern works by pop artists.

2: Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers
An image credit example from a Britannica

Born: 16 July 1911, Independence, Missouri, United States

Died: 25 April 1995, Rancho Mirage, California, United States

Awards/Accreditations:

  • Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in “Kitty Foyle” (1940)
  • Kennedy Center Honors in 1992
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992
  • Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of her contributions to the film industry

Ginger Rogers, born Virginia Katherine McMath, was a dancer and singer during the Golden Age of Hollywood. At the age of 14, she won a Charleston dance contest, which helped her launch her vaudeville career. She worked with Fred Astaire in the 1930s, giving RKO Pictures their best successes, like “Top Hat,” “The Gay Divorcee,” and “Swing Time.” Rogers was also Astaire’s most famous dance partner. Together, they produced enduring dance performances.

Rogers ranks number 14 on the AFI’s “100 Years…100 Stars” list of female stars of classic American cinema. She garnered acclaim, winning an Academy Award for Best Actress for her starring role in Kitty Foyle. Her influence in musical films is still seen in today’s releases.

3: Michael Flatley

Michael Flatley
An image credit example from a Wikipedia

Born: 16 July 1958, Chicago, Illinois, United States

Awards/Accreditations:

  • Guinness World Record holder for tap dancing at 35 times per second
  • Honored with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1998.
  • Received the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship in 1988
  • Spirit of Ireland Award by the Irish American Magazine in 1997

Michael Flatley, among the famous ballroom dancers, is widely known for creating and starring in Irish dance shows like Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, and Feet of Flames. His performances have attracted over 60 million viewers in 60 countries, grossing more than $1 billion.

Faltley’s most famous work is “Lord of Dance,” a musical he choreographed and produced himself. It is considered one of the best musicals.

Flatley reinvented traditional Irish dance by introducing new rhythms, syncopation, and upper-body movements. He held the Guinness World Record for tap dancing at 35 times per second and had his feet insured for $57.6 million. Unfortunately, he had to retire from dance in 2016 due to chronic spinal, knee, foot, and rib pain.

4: Mark Ballas

Mark Ballas
An image credit example from a Wikipedia

Born: 24 May 1986, Houston, Texas, United States

Awards/Accreditations: Three-time winner of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars

Mark Ballas is a renowned ballroom dancer who catapulted to fame as a professional on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” clinching victory three times. Beyond his prowess on the dance floor, he showcased his acting skills by portraying Tony in the musical “Copacabana” and held leading roles in other productions. He made a cameo appearance in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In the Broadway cast, Ballas notably portrayed Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys” and Charlie Price in “Kinky Boots.”

Throughout his tenure on “Dancing with the Stars,” Ballas partnered with various celebrities, consistently showcasing his skill and creativity. He returned to win the competition in season 31, proving his status as one of the most famous ballroom dancers ever.

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5: Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Maksim Chmerkovskiy
An image credit example from a The Hollywood Reporter

Born: 17 January 1980, Odesa, Ukraine

Awards/Accreditations:

  • Winner of Dancing with the Stars in 2014 alongside Meryl Davis
  • Numerous championship titles in prestigious dance competitions:
    • Yankee Classic Professional Latin Champion in 2005
    • Manhattan Dancesport Professional Latin Champion in 2004
    • All England Champion in 2003
  • Achieved high rankings in the International Latin category with partner Elena Grinenko, reaching 2nd in the United States and 7th in the world

Maksim Chmerkovskiy is a Ukrainian-American ballroom dance champion who appeared in “Dancing with the Stars.” He won the show’s title in 2014 alongside Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis.

Chmerkovskiy has starred in Broadway dance productions like “Burn the Floor” and “Forever Tango.” He has also secured high rankings in the International Latin category with partner Elena Grinenko.

6: Derek Hough

Derek Hough
An image credit example from a Parade

Born: 17 May 1985, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Awards/Accreditations:

  • Six-time winner of Dancing with the Stars, a record-breaking achievement
  • Four-time winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography

Derek Hough is an American professional dancer, singer, and choreographer who showcased his talent as an actor on stage and screen, including roles in Footloose: The Musical and Hairspray Live! Hough, being trained in many dance forms, can also play piano, guitar, drum, and bass. Known for his versatility, Hough made a cameo appearance in popular films like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Rock of Ages. His participation in NBC’s World of Dance as a judge further solidifies his status as one of the most famous ballroom dancers of all time.

7: Peta Murgatroyd

Peta Murgatroyd
An image credit example from a Wikipedia

Born: 14 July 1986, Auckland, New Zealand

Awards/Accreditations: Two-time winner of Dancing with the Stars

Peta Murgatroyd is an Australian-American professional Latin dancer. She was the female lead dancer for the Broadway run of “Burn the Floor.”

Murgatroyd joined Dancing with the Stars as a member of the dance troupe in season 12 and later became a regular professional cast member. Despite an ankle injury, she participated in the Dancing with the Stars: Live! “Perfect Ten” tour and later joined the “Dance All Night” tour. Murgatroyd also performed in Sway: A Dance Trilogy alongside Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

8: Valentin Chmerkovskiy

Valentin Chmerkovskiy
An image credit example from a Parade

Born: 24 March 1986, Odesa, Ukraine

Awards/Accreditations:

  • Three-time winner of Dancing with the Stars
  • Two-time World Latin Dance Champion
  • 14-time U.S. National Latin Dance champion
  • Holder of records for highest scores and earliest perfect scores on Dancing with the Stars

Valentin Chmerkovskiy is a Ukrainian-American professional dancer. With her graceful and fluid movement on the dance floor, she has captivated her audience. Chmerkovskiy shares the record with Mark Ballas for having the most celebrity partners (four) never to score less than 8 from any judge. He holds the record for most first-perfect scores on the show with eight.. Chmerkovskiy is a co-owner of nine social dance studios under the brand “Dance With Me.”

9: Julianne Hough

Julianne Hough
An image credit example from a Wikipedia

Born: 20 July 1988, Orem, Utah, United States

Awards/Accreditations:

  • Winner of two seasons of Dancing with the Stars as a professional dancer.
  • Primetime Emmy Award winner for her work on Dancing with the Stars, alongside her brother Derek Hough.

Julianne Hough is a dancer, singer, actress, and television personality. Hough has made a significant impact in the realm of acting, securing leading roles in films such as “Burlesque,” “Footloose,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Safe Haven.” Notably, she portrayed Sandy in the 2016 live Fox television production of “Grease.” Hough’s talents are not confined to acting; she has also delved into hosting, serving as a judge on “America’s Got Talent” and co-hosting The Tony Awards. In 2023, she triumphantly returned to “Dancing with the Stars” as a co-host.

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10: Tony Dovolani

Tony Dovolani
An image credit example from a Wikipedia

Born: 17 July 1973, Pristina, SFR Yugoslavia

Awards/Accreditations:

  • PBS America’s Ballroom Challenge Rhythm Champion in 2006
  • Emerald Ball Open Professional American Rhythm Champion in 2006
  • United States Open Rhythm Champion in 2006 with Elena Grinenko
  • World Rhythm Champion in 2006 with Elena Grinenko
  • Ohio Star Ball American Rhythm Champion in 2005
  • United States Open Rhythm Champion in 2005 with Inna Ivanenko
  • World Rhythm Champion in 2005 with Inna Ivanenko

Tony Dovolani is an Albanian-American professional ballroom dancer. He has appeared on numerous seasons of the show and partnered with celebrities such as Stacy Keibler, Jane Seymour, and Melissa Rycroft. In 2006, he was also nominated for an Emmy for outstanding choreography.

Beyond his dancing process, Dovolani co-founded Dance with Me Studio and remains active in promoting ballroom dancing through various platforms. Dovolami’s contributions and accomplishments as a ballroom dancer make him one of the most famous ballroom dancers.

FAQs

Who is the greatest ballroom dancer of all time?

Fred Astaire is considered the epitome of elegance and skill in ballroom dancing. He clinched the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989.

Who was the famous ballroom dancing couple?

Vernon and Irene Castle were a husband-and-wife team of ballroom dancers and dance teachers who appeared on Broadway and in silent films in the early 20th century.

Who is the father of ballroom dance?

Jehan Tabourot is considered the father of ballroom dance. In 1588, he published “Orchésographie,” a study of 16th-century French Renaissance social dance.

Who is the mother of the ballroom?

Paris Dupree is considered the mother of ballroom dance. She formed the first Brooklyn house, House of Dupree, with Father Burger Dupree.

Who made ballroom dancing popular?

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are credited for making ballroom dancing popular through their mesmerizing performances in the musical films they starred in throughout the 1930s and 40s.

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