Anna Pavlova as the Dying Swan

Happy International Women's Day! Today, we honor female leaders, movers, and shakers from around the world. To celebrate, here are a a few of our favorite women who have shaped the dance world.

Martha Graham

Martha is, of course, known as the mother of modern dance. She was the first to emerge from the ballet idiom and create a codified modern dance technique. She created over one hundred and fifty works throughout her amazing life.

Martha Graham, photo by Barbara Morgan, 1940
Martha Graham, photo by Barbara Morgan, 1940

Josephine Baker

Ms. Baker is one of the first famous performers of African descent. She is known for performing in Paris as a part of the Folies Bergère in her famous skirt made from bananas (yes, bananas!). Her influence is palpable throughout jazz dance even today.

Josephine Baker, photo by Lucien Walery, 1936
Josephine Baker, photo by Lucien Walery, 1936

Ginger Rogers

Though she's known for being one-half of the famous duo Fred & Ginger, she was an astounding talent in her own right. She made everything she performed look effortless. And of course, as the saying goes: "She did everything Fred did, but she did it backwards and in high heels!"

Ginger Rogers in "TopHat", photo John Miehle/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Image, 1935
Ginger Rogers in "TopHat", photo John Miehle/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Image, 1935

Anna Pavlova

This list wouldn't be complete without Ms. Pavlova, arguably the most famous ballet dancer of all time. Her rendition of The Dying Swan is still considered to be one of the most thrilling ever performed.

Anna Pavlova in "Swan Lake," photo by Mishkin, 1905
Anna Pavlova in "Swan Lake," photo by Mishkin, 1905

Who else should be on this list? Leave us a comment below!

About the author

Anne Luben has performed works by notable choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Bill T. Jones, Jiri Kylian, Idan Cohen, Alex Ketley, and Summer Lee Rhatigan, among others.