Vote Now: The Best Pop-Culture Ballerinas

Yelena BlackVanessa Adler comes from a family of ballerinas. Her decision to attend the New York Ballet Academy, though, isn’t just about dance. She’s hoping to find her sister, who disappeared from the academy three years before—and hasn’t been seen since. But once she arrives at the NYBA, Vanessa finds a sinister world she never imagined. She might have landed the role of a lifetime, but she also has to deal with pressures from all sides: a handsome boy, backstabbing bunheads, and a demanding choreographer.

The way Vanessa dances through danger in Yelena Black’s novel, Dance of Shadows, got us thinking about other pop-culture ballerinas. Ballet’s not all pretty tutus and graceful grand jetés (yeah we know our ballet lingo!), you know. These ballerinas are tough, talented, and ready for anything. Here are a few of our favorites. Vote for the best below, and let us know which ones we missed in the comments!

Nina Sayers, Natalie PortmanNina

Black Swan

Ballet’s no picnic. If you’re in doubt, watch 0.25 seconds of Black Swan. Nina’s under such crazy pressure to play the lead in Swan Lake, she starts to go a little insane. Okay, a lot insane. Her obsession with perfection might not turn out so well, but . . . you can’t say she’s not a dedicated performer, right?



Jamie BellBilly

Billy Elliot

Billy’s an awesome ballerina (ballerino?). Not only is he an excellent dancer, but he also has to train in secret because his dad doesn’t approve. With the help of his teacher, Billy wins his family over and auditions for the Royal Ballet School. And he doesn’t even need to wear a tutu!



Michelle Simms, Sutton FosterMichelle


Michelle Simms goes from successful ballerina to showgirl to small-town dance teacher. It might seem like her life’s on kind of a downward spiral, but Michelle devotes herself to teaching the absurdly talented teenagers of Paradise, California. Her commitment to her students and her dance skills make her a grade-A ballerina.


Jody, Amanda SchullJody

Center Stage

All Jody wants to do is dance, but the competition is tough at her prestigious ballet school. Still, she perseveres and finally gets the chance to prove herself. She also manages to navigate her way through Center Stage’s insane love triangles, which we think is almost as impressive as her dancing.



Nora, Jenna Dewan-TatumNora

Step Up

Nora, a ballerina at a performing arts school, is obsessed with perfecting her senior showcase. With the help of super-hot troublemaker Tyler, Nora creates a seriously amazing dance: a mash-up of her classical ballet and Tyler’s edgy breakdancing. It’s a match made in dance heaven!



So which one of these dancers deserves the leading role? Vote now! And be sure to let us know which ballerinas we left out in the comments!

Can’t see the survey? Click here!

6 thoughts on “Vote Now: The Best Pop-Culture Ballerinas

  1. I love how always the one you’d least expect wins these things on figment ^^ Oh, I love this website. How did I ever get here….?

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