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Meet the Best Dance Choreographers of All Time

By Sophia, published on 24/04/2018 Blog > Arts and Hobbies > Dance > 10 Famous Dance Choreographers from History

The Moon Walk, the Macarena… who has never dreamed of designing new choreography for an international superstar?

Be it classical ballet or hip hop dance, most of today’s sport dance styles incorporate moves from each other’s disciplines to create some of the best modern choreography; choreographed by artists from all backgrounds, of many influences.

Today we present the most talented choreographers in the history of dance.

Aurélien Bory: International choreographer

Aurélien Bory is a native of Colmar, in France, born in 1971. A former sound engineer, he had been employed in the field of architectural acoustics for the creative studio at the Circus Arts Centre in Toulouse since 1995.

After being commissioned to set up the acoustics for a performance at the Theater Garonne, Aurélien Bory met artistic director Mladen Materic, who persuaded him to engage in dance performance, rather than orchestrate sound.

So it came to be that Mr. Bory learned dance routines taught by his mentor, and then he joined the French ensemble Tattoo Theatre, dancing with them from 1998 to 2000.

He later founded his dance studio, Company 111 in Toulouse, where he blends dance steps with circus, music and visual arts.

Everything from the arena architecture to costumes plays a part in his shows.

The company currently performs worldwide and carries out over 150 performances per artistic season.

Aurélien Bory is one of the greatest figures in French contemporary dance.

Pierre Rigal, Choreographer / Filmmaker

His friendship with Aurélien Bory predates their fame; so it was natural that Pierre Rigal would base himself in Toulouse as well.

However, that was not the first time he stepped foot in the Pink City, as that burg is affectionately called.

Born in 1973 in Moissac, Pierre Rigal first studied mathematical economics and cinema at the Audio-visual university in Toulouse.

This choreographer did not realise he loved to dance until later, when he joined Gilles Jobin’s dance training in 2002. A year after that, he launched his own dance choreography company: Last Minute.

Like Aurélien Bory, Pierre Rigal and his professional dancers now enjoy great success performing more than a hundred shows each year.

His latest show, Scandal, highlights the skill and artistry of hip-hop dancing.

The Revolutionary Maurice Béjart

In his lifetime, Maurice Béjart founded more than one dance studio The passionate Mr. Béjart directed many dancers toward fame Source: Wikipedia Credit: Erling Mandelmann

Maurice-Jean Berger (1927-2007), known as Maurice Béjart, was one of the greatest dancers and perhaps the most innovative dance choreographer of the twentieth century.

Belgium, 1960: he founded his first dance company called Twentieth Century Ballet, whose troupe performed all over the world.

He was founder of more than one repertory. His last venture, the Rudra in Lausanne, still the most famous professional dance school in the world today.

Throughout the dance world, his brand of art has been challenged by his contemporaries, who all judged his dance moves too classic for these modern times.

Maurice Béjart was indeed inspired by classical and neoclassical dance technique, but his repertoire went beyond traditional moves to showcase musical, lyrical, emotional, theatrical and choreographic elements into his performances.

He was one of the choreographers who established modern dance as an art form in France and Belgium, which earned him membership in the French Academy of Fine Arts, from 1994 until his death.

Today he is one of the most renowned choreographers in the history of dance.

Benjamin Millepied, Hollywood’s Choreographer

The dance film Black Swan has surely not escaped your attention, especially if you are a fan of classical dance. This documentary chronicles the strenuous training of a Swan Lake ballet dancer.

Born in 1971 in Bordeaux, Benjamin Millepied is one of the most sought-after choreographers for any film involving dance sequences. He first came to the attention of American producers as a soloist for the New York City Ballet.

Following the filming of Black Swan, he took a position as director of the ballet corps of the Paris Opera Ballet, a post he held from 2014 to 2016.

He also married the beautiful Natalie Portman, having met her on the set of Black Swan: such a beautiful story, well worth the greatest of Hollywood scenarios!

Benjamin Millepied remains today an internationally recognized performer, influential in the world of dance and theater.

Carolyn Carlson, a Choreography Legend

Born in 1943, Carolyn Carlson is the whole package: dancer, choreographer, poet and calligrapher.

This 70+ young American has enjoyed a career that is the envy of American dance, and more than one ballet company worldwide.

She established her legacy in dance history with her creation of more than a hundred pieces, each one acclaimed by dance companies worldwide.

Besides being a hit on the American modern dance scene, this dancer and choreographer embodies the spirit of the art and is revered as one of the greatest figures of new wave French dance.

She was involved in the development of contemporary French dance at the Paris Opera, as well as in the Italian performing arts, with the Teatrodanza at La Fenice.

Carolyn Carlson then branched into dance instruction in her Paris Studio – Carolyn Carlson, a Dance Masterclass, in 1999.

And then, dynamic presence that she is, she became director of the National Choreographic Center in Pas-de-Calais before establishing her own dance company: the Carolyn Carlson Company.

She further enjoyed collaboration with the National Theatre of Chaillot from 2014 to 2016.

It would be apt to describe this dancer as a true poet of dance because she prefers to describe her choreography as visual poetry.

Other American choreographers include Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Bob Fosse and Katherine Dunham. See? We’re not focussed solely on French dance education!

Would you wish to consult our top-rated dancers, to inspire you even more?

Marie-Claude Pietragalla, a Star in Choreography

Ms. Pietragalla is considered a pioneer in dance About dance and musicals, Ms. Pietragalla could hardly be more passionate! Source: Wikipedia Credit: Zoomelliott

Discovered during a broadcast of the dance program Dancing with the Stars, Marie-Claude Pietragalla is a revered dancer and choreographer.

Born in 1963 in Paris, Marie-Claude began dancing at a very young age in order to combat hyperactivity.

At 9 years old, she took her skills to dance school. The routine she performed at the audition of the school of ballet for the Paris National Opera naturally won her admission.

At the age of 16, she joined the Opera’s ballet corps, and then became principal dancer on December 22, 1990, following her performance in the ballet Don Quixote.

In 2004, this dancer turned choreographer launched her dance company in collaboration with Julien Derouault.

They are partners in life too!

The choreography of Theatre of the Body Pietragalla – Derouault is a fusion of classical, contemporary dance and hip-hop influences.

And she keeps adding arrows to her quiver: her latest venture is literature!

Kamel Ouali, the King Choreographer of Musical Comedy

Born in 1971, Kamel grew up mad for dance and about Michael Jackson.

So it stands to reason that his career in dance theatre would skyrocket, given just a bit of a push. 

A professor at the Paris Dance Academy, this dancer/choreographer regularly participates in projects such as music videos and staged shows. He now ranks as one of the most famous dancers, in France and abroad.

His dramatic dance style quickly made him a name to be reckoned with in dancing circles.

However, his real success came with his choreographing musical theater: French adaptations of The Ten Commandments and an adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

His fame got a boost from teens and young adults when he took the position of dance instructor for the French version of the television show Star Academy, from 2001 to 2008.

All while coaching new dancers for the telly, he created his debut musical; the wildly successful The Sun King.

Rumour has it that this show will soon make a comeback!

He followed up that achievement with the musical comedy Cleopatra.

If you are looking for a dance instructor with no boundaries, Mr. Ouali is your man! Looking for an educator in musical comedy and dance? Mr. Ouali is the fellow for you! Source: Wikipedia Credit: Auddesigner

Mia Frye: Hey, Macarena!

Have you ever danced the Macarena?

It is to choreographer and dancer Mia Frye that we owe this superb acrobatic feat (try at 90 years old; you’ll understand!)

Born in 1965 in the United States, Mia Frye arrived in France at 12 years old, and quickly integrated herself The Centre of Dance – what is called The Marsh, a historic district in Paris.

A few years later, she became a dance teacher, hosting workshops in jazz dance and rhythmic dancing.

Introduced to film director Luc Besson at the age of 17, she designed the choreography for French singer Serge Gainsbourg’s music video My Legionnaire.

It was in the summer of 1996 that Mia Frye premiered what would become one of her greatest successes: La Macarena, the internationally acclaimed dance movement.

Not only did she choreograph the dance, but she participated in the Los del Rio’s filming of the music video!

Since then, besides collaborating with other music artists, Mia Frye has participated on French reality shows such as Popstars, as an official choreographer.

Wade Robson: A Star’s Course

From a young age, Australian Wade Robson demonstrated bucket loads of talent.

It was at the age of seven that he was discovered by the mythical Michael Jackson who, upon seeing his dancing, immediately offered him a spot in the music video Black or White.

His distinctive feel for pop music paved the way for him to direct both music videos and world tours for such illustrious performers as NSync and Britney Spears, whom he worked with until 2002.

He is no stranger to other aspects of pop culture, having designed the choreography for Britney’s famous Pepsi commercial, which aired during America’s premier sports event, the Superbowl.

His fame as choreographer and instructor thus secure, he goes even further.

As a frequent collaborator of other choreographers such as Mya Michaels and Shane Sparks, and music artists Mandy Moore, Justin Timberlake and Demi Lovato… just to name a few.

He is truly an international star of new dance, whose creativity is a beacon to all.

Blanca Li, the Precocious One

If you have seen music videos by Kanye West or Paul McCartney, Ms. Li most likely had a hand in them! Blanca Li is a master of improvisation in dance! Source: Wikipedia Credit: Ali Mahdavi

Blanca Li is one of those artists of many hats: dancer, actor, director, and choreographer.

Born in Spain in 1964, Blanca Li is passionate about all styles of dance: Flamenco, hip hop, classical and ballroom dance… among others.

She joined the national gymnastics team in Granada at the age of 12. She then set out to study dance under Martha Graham in New York, while only 17 years old.

It was in Spain that she founded her first dance company, which was contracted to perform for the Seville World’s Fair in 1992.

Hers was a beautiful entry into the field of French culture!

In the aftermath, the Nancy Opera contracted her to stage the operas Short Life and Sorcerer’s Love.

These two shows won her acceptance from the highly cultural French. Running on their wave of delight and acclaim, she set up her choreography center Blanca Li in Paris in 1998.

The following year, the Paris Opera contracted her to update the choreography of their show the Amorous Indies – Les Indes Galantes.

To finance her company, Blanca Li provided the staging of music videos for such diverse artists as Daft Punk and Rita Mitsouko.

She never baulks at engagement with anyone, be it arranging intense human movement for Beyonce, or rhythm sequences for Paul McCartney!

Keeping with the field of dance, why not check out some of the most stunning ballet scenes, to motivate you before your first class? Or take a look at some famous dance quotes?

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