The five greatest Bolshoi soloists of all time

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Internationally renowned classical ballet company, the Bolshoi Ballet, has produced some of the world’s most exquisite ballet dancers over the years. Whilst I could write a book on many of these amazing ballet dancers, here are five of the greatest Bolshoi soloists of all time:

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Born in Latvia in 1948, Mikhail started studying ballet at the age of nine. He became one of the most respected ballet dancers in the Soviet Union during the 60s. In 1974, after a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet in Canada, he defected to America with the hope of being able to express himself in a more creative way.

The Americans loved to watch him and Mikhail worked with the American Ballet Theatre for many years. Mikhail began a 10 year tenure at the American Ballet Theatre in 1980 as the artistic director. This involved nurturing choreographers and dancers of a new generation.

Mikhail Lavrosky



Dancing was in his family, so when Mikhail was born in 1941 it was an obvious path to follow. His mother, Elena Chikvaidze, was a famous ballerina, and his father, Leonid Lavrosky, was the chief choreographer for nearly 20 years at the Bolshoi Theatre.

During the late 60s and early 70s, Mikhail was one of the foremost principal dancers in the Bolshoi Ballet. His style was very passionate and on occasions quite impetuous, but it did help to reshape male ballet dancing at the Bolshoi.

Maria Alexandrova

Although only 36, this lady has already left her mark in the world of ballet. After winning a gold medal in 1997 at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow, Maria joined the Bolshoi Ballet soon after. By 2004 she was one of their principal dancers and has since performed the lead character in many ballets.

In 2005 and 2007 Maria performed many soloist roles. 10 years ago critics and audiences around the world singled this ballerina out as being one of the most distinctive young ballerinas to come out of the Bolshoi. It’s 11 years on and people still love to watch her dance.

Anna Pavlova

source: Maya Ballet

source:  Maya Ballet

Anna Pavlova is one of the most famous ballet dancers in history, and though many said she had limited technique, Anna wowed audiences with her style and charm. Her unforgettable performance of the dying swan at the Bolshoi Ballet is probably one of the most memorable ballet performances ever.

Nina Ananiashvili

Born in 1963, Nina entered the Bolshoi Ballet in 1981 aged just 18. Within just two years she was promoted to soloist and performed as a professional for the first time in her native Tbilisi. Rising to Prima Ballerina, she was the first Russian ballerina to dance with the New York City Ballet as a guest performer in 1988.

Vladimir Vasiliev

© Demyan

© Demyan

Graduating from the Bolshoi Ballet in 1958 and immediately joining them as a soloist, Vladimir became known as a hero of Soviet ballet because of the thrilling leaps and amazing multiple pirouettes he performed. One of his most famous performances was as Spartacus in the ballet of the same name.