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The Most Famous Dancers of All Time

24th Aug 2016

Dancing is something that comes off as too hard or too embarrassing for some, while to others it is everything from a way of life to a completely unique way of expressing themselves.

Whether we realize it or not, dancing itself has shaped quite a few things in the world, from ages to fashion, from mentalities to the entertainment industry as a whole, and it is still doing so today in a subtle yet potent way.

It seems only fair that we remember and pay homage to some of the best dancers of all time, the ones that inspired the greats, and the great that have inspired us.


1. Michael Jackson

This entry comes as no surprise to anyone. The man that bent the rules of physics, defied gravity, pushed the boundaries of human anatomy and on many occasions forced the viewers that watched him perform to remain stunned in place, Michael Jackson will forever be known as both the king of pop and dancing.

Initially part of a group called “The Jackson 5”, Michael along with his brothers entered show business at a very early age. Years later, after he grew up, Michael pursued a solo career as a singer/dancer, focusing more and more on dancing and the way in which he himself danced.

He invented completely new dance concepts, patented inventions that aided him and his dancers on stage, he even brought interpretive dancing on to the main stage and integrated it into his routines.

He died on the 25th of June 2009, at the age of 50 as a result of self-medication combined with general fatigue and a weakened state of health.

Michael Jackson inspired a lot of the famous singers and dancers of today, artists like Usher, Chris Brown, Bruno Mars and various others, managing to shape and model pop culture even today, from beyond the grave.


2. James Brown

Known popularly as the God Father of Soul, James Brown was a singer/dancer that revolutionized both dancing and the way people perceived dancing.

The lead singer for The Famous Flames, James Brown was known to constantly alter the dance moves and routines that he would do before a show, ultimately resorting to improvisation and experimentation in order to express himself through dance.

This paid off exponentially and James Brown invented moves and styles that are being used to this date, one decade after his death in 2006.

The camel walk, the mashed potato, the popcorn, dramatic leaps, splits, slides and many other moves and styles are attributed and credited to him. He went off to inspire artists from all over the world, revolutionizing the way in which rhythm is interpreted through dance.


3. Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll

Voluptuous, enticing, enthralling, vulgar, challenging, these are a small fraction of the words used to describe the way in which the singer/dancer Shakira dances.

Young, fit, daring and above all else flexible, Shakira adopts a very provocative and sexual style of dance without actually removing any articles of her dance costume, leaving the imagination to do all the work.

Her small, nimble and above all else very elastic body, along with years upon years of practice, allows her to perform moves that would ordinarily be physically impossible, with a grace and fluidity that would put to shame even the most experienced of dancers.

Even though at first glance her dancing might come off as being suggestive and vulgar, it actually serves to empower women by giving them the confidence and the self-esteem that they need in order to get ahead in life and grab what is rightfully theirs, while at the same time provoking the fantasies and imaginations of men.

A lot of new up and coming artists have even managed to adapt and adopt some of Shakira’s moves and styles, being inspired by her strong presence and skillful dancing.


4. Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter

If there is one thing that Beyoncé is known for is her dancing, along with the ability to perfectly sing while dancing, regardless of the intensity of the dance in question.

This is something that requires years of commitment and practice in order to pull off, like Beyoncé, without the use of pre-recorded voice files or special effects.

This artist is now well known for her dancing skills, to the point where a lot of people are trying to imitate her style and fail miserably because of the actual difficulty of dancing the way Beyoncé does while still singing perfectly and unaffected by the intensity of the dance itself.

There is, however, a silver lining to all this. A lot of new and old singers/dancers have actually taken a few pages out of her book, adapted the dances and styles to better suit their conditions and conditioning, and actually went on to provide more entertainment and more enjoyment for the masses.

Even though she is nowhere near the point of retirement, Beyoncé has already managed to influence both newer and older generations, changing the music and entertainment industries like the greats before her.


5. Gene Kelly

One of the most prominent stars of the golden age of Hollywood, where musical films were as abundant as bread and Gene Kelly was one nautical mile above the rest.

He managed to make a name for himself rather young because of his talent to dance, managing to land some of the most important and impressive movie roles of that time.

As his career progressed, he began to focus more and more on his dancing, ultimately developing the style that defined him and his career as an entertainer.

Something that was more than normal for Gene Kelly was to use every single square inch of space that he would have at his disposal, as well as every single surface and elevation, leaving nothing without at least a couple of dance steps.

This might seem strange and weird now, however everything was planned, calculated and practiced to exhaustion until it was perfect. Mundane moves, normal action like reaching for an umbrella, putting your hat on, dialing a number on the telephone, even drinking a glass of water, everything could be, and was, introduced as a dance move one way or another by Gene Kelly, and it worked wonders.

Even today his methods are still wide spread among dancers, singers and even actors, managing to capture the spirit, the madness and the wonder that was Gene Kelly.


6. Sammy Davis

Dancing is special. It can bring us together, unite us all under one fluid motion, and ultimately provide us with something that not all things can, entertainment at its best, and tap dancing is no exception.

Sammy Davis was a titan of tap dancing. An actor, a singer and a dancer at the same time, Sammy Davis managed to bring a skill that has persisted to this day in entertainment, spawning schools and ballrooms that specialize in one thing ad one thing only, tap dancing.

A skilled, talented and ambitions man, Sammy Davis managed to take something as simple as tap dancing, improve it, and put it on the main stage as a primary form of entertainment, which at the time was unanimously loved and accepted.

A new way for people to express themselves and at the same time one of the more inviting styles of dancing, in which the dancer actually contributes to the music itself in a small manner, tap dancing has taken the world by storm, and it is still being encountered today in various forms of entertainment.


7. Fred Astaire

More often known as the man that made grace and elegance affordable, Fred Astaire went down in history as one of the most talented and famous actor/dancer of all times.

One of the key things that represented him was his talent to dance even in the most uncomfortable and unnatural conditions.

A true classic Hollywood star, pre-dating a lot of the greatest dancers in the world, Fred Astaire stood out amongst the rest as being one of the most influential and prominent dancers on the silver screen because of the way in which he danced.

He was able to dance in anything, on anything and in any condition, while constantly maintaining a high level of grace, dignity, masculinity and elegance.


8. Donnie Burns

One of the most well-known and at the same time one of the most entertaining ballroom dancers of all time, Donnie Burns is the holder of multiple dancing championship titles and ballroom dancing titles.

One of the specific traits that characterize this man when dancing is clarity with which he does it, constantly in perfect sync with the music that he dances to and always complementing his partner while doing so.

He has appeared on multiple dance shows, influenced a lot of rising talents and even initiated people in the art of ballroom dancing.

He and his dancing partner, at this point, are considered to be among the classics of both ballroom dance and Latino dancing.


Indeed dancing has influenced us one way or another. Sometimes it has stunned us, other times it dictated the way in which we moved, and other times it made us look and feel as if we were the strongest people on the planet, and all this was possible through the grates that we looked up to, and are still looking up to, even to this very day.