The 20th century was quite the time to watch the evolution of dancing, from the Charleston and jitterbug to the Moonwalk and Macarena. The century witnessed a profound explosion and evolution in music, resulting in eclectic and successful dancers and styles over the decades.

Dancing was all the craze for much of the 20th century. After watching some of these household names on the big screen or live, it made you want to grab your partner and shake those hips. It may be a lost art form for this generation, but dancing is one of the most beautiful and fascinating forms of art. The last century had seen some of the most legendary and the most talented dancers in the world. Many have left their mark, and their techniques are still practiced and followed in the world of dancing today.

The following list contains the top seven best dancers of all time. These dancing legends have captivated audiences around the globe and became household names during their time. Most people would not recognise the names on this list, but if they were to see any of them dance, they would either become entranced, or they would know who these famous dancers were almost immediately.

1. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was undoubtedly one of the best dancers of all time. He remains a household name and is globally known for his hip-hop routines and pop music. His contributions to dancing are immense.

Apart from the fact that he was a self-taught dancer, he also had natural flexibility, grace, and superb rhythm. He derived inspiration from other dancing greats like Gene Kelly, James Brown, and Marcel Marceau, but he was also able to create his own identity through his original moves and techniques.

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk was an awe-inspiring dance technique then and continues to be one today. Nobody has ever been able to do it the way he did it, even though many have tried.


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2. Martha Graham

Martha Graham is widely considered to be one of the best dancers of all time. This famous dancer is a pioneer of modern dancing techniques. During her lifetime, she developed the only fully-codified modern dance technique. She choreographed more than 15 dozen motion arts from classical ballet to freestyle dancing, which have stood the test of time.

Her contributions to the world of dance are immense, and even today, her style and her technique impact many aspects of modern-day dancing. She was one of the first dancers to create a language based on choreographed body movements, and she was also the first dancing ambassador for the U.S.


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3. Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly is perhaps the biggest dancing star to come out of Hollywood. During the Golden Age of Music, Kelly had a distinct style of dancing and developed several hybrid approaches, including tap and ballet.

Gene Kelly was a maestro on the dance floor; his movements were fluid, and gestures were flawless. His works and choreography continue to inspire modern-day artists like Paula Abdul and Usher, and many dance schools and dance artists train themselves using Gene Kelly’s style and technique.


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4. Mikhail Baryshnikov

Mikhail Baryshnikov is considered to be one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time. Born in the former Soviet Union, he studied dancing at a very young age in Leningrad (called St. St Petersburg today).  Een at that age, his peers knew he was destined for stardom.

By the 1970s, he was world-famous, and within a decade, his name was etched on the archives of ballet history. He is known for his elegant, grace, and finesse on the ballet barre. For two decades, he graced the world of ballet with his artistic moves and choreographed body motions.


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5. Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers were born dancers with true class and great technique. The formidable pair seduced global audiences for many years with their sexy dance routines and excellent body motion and fluidity. Their beautiful synergy and connection gave their dancing a distinct quality, and it was apparent that they could anticipate each other’s moves without any problem.

The best thing about this pair was that they revealed to the world that dancing could be a fun and enjoyable activity. Astaire and Rogers were first paired in 1933, and after that, there was no going back. The pair starred in several movies till their partnership ended in 1939, as both of them wanted to venture into different projects.

They did two more films after their initial separation. Their early years of their partnership were the most successful, and they both had a great fan following for being the best dancers of all time.


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6. Rudolf Nureyev

Rudolf Nureyev is also among the most popular ballet dancers of the 20th century. Like Barasyhnikov, he was born to do this. He joined the Famous Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg and immediately enthralled audiences globally. His performances were emotional, combined with charisma and grace.

Unfortunately, Nureyev died when he was at the peak of his career after contracting HIV. However, his name is still in the list of the best dancers of all time, and his dancing legacy remains intact.


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7. Gregory Oliver Hines

Gregory Oliver Hines was an American dancer, singer, and choreographer. He is typically considered one of the most accomplished tap dancers of all time. Gregory taught himself to tap dance at a very young age. When he was in his 20s, Hollywood came knocking.

His superb dancing skills led to 40 movies and many awards. His energetic style of tap dancing influenced other greats like Jane Goldberg, Dianne Walker, and Savion Glover. Sadly, he died in 2003, at a very young age, from liver cancer.


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