Anna Pavlova and Alicia Alonso were blessed to have the chance to act in these ballets. Thanks to these ballets, the ballet companies were able to rake in tremendous moolah, and the actors could experience instant stardom. It is because of these shows, that the ballet has been retained as a dance form.
Composed by Sergei Prokofiev, this excellent masterpiece was completed in 1945, and since then, almost all the famous ballet companies have been performing this timeless, rags to riches story.
Originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon, and based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Der Sandmann" ("The Sandman"), this ballet has a sentimental, as well as a comic touch to it. It has a funny premise of a doll being misunderstood as a young woman (Coppélia), who is wooed by a man, who is already engaged by the way.
What passes as a result of this, culminates into a comedy of error and a complex interplay of emotions. Interestingly enough, this 2 act 3 scene ballet introduced automatons, dolls, and marionettes to ballet.
Based on the epic masterpiece by Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote gave love, adventure, and loss to ballet. It was presented in Moscow in as early as the December of 1869. This ballet has 4 acts and 8 scenes and is a delightful watch.
Ah... Here comes the classic amongst the classics. Giselle is the ballet which turned talented dancers like Alicia Alonso and Anna Pavlova into stars, overnight. First presented, rather performed, in Paris in 1841, this is one of the most legendary and hopelessly romantic ballets.
It was originally choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, but the version which is most common today is the one by Marius Petipa. Giselle is a complicated love story portrayed extremely beautifully.
It speaks of a man who is already betrothed, but pretends to be someone else and falls in love with a girl. The girl dies due to the deception. Giselle has to be in the list of famous ballets for its brilliant choreography and amazing visual impact.
A ballet comprising 4 acts and 7 scenes, La Bayadère was choreographed by Marius Petipa. It was first performed in 1877 in Russia. Set against the beautiful backdrop of royal India, its most startling feature has to be the white act, where 32 women, decked up completely in white, make their way down a ramp, together. It is absolutely breathtaking.
Edouard Deldevez composed music for Paquita and Joseph Mazilier choreographed it. Paquita was presented in Paris for the very first time in 1846. It has 2 acts and 3 scenes. This story of a girl of a noble birth stolen by gypsies, is set in Spain. The girl is not aware of this fact and what happens to her after this incident, is depicted in the ballet.
A ballet that plays a major part in the annual holiday tradition, 'The Nutcracker' was apparently a damp squib to start off with. It was bashed by critics as well as the audiences. It was performed again in Russia in 1892, during the peak time for ballets.
The American production of this ballet was presented in 1944 by San Francisco Ballet. Although it had an insipid start, it went on to become one of the most famous ballets there ever was.
What can be said about one of the greatest love stories by William Shakespeare? Its literature is so beautiful, that it also paved way for dance. A ballet by Sergei Prokofiev, it has an incredible music score. A whopping 4 acts, 10 scenes, and 52 separate dance numbers, make it one of the greatest ballets ever.
An epitome of classical ballets, Swan Lake is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first ballet. It has been enthralling and mesmerizing audiences since time immemorial. Traditionally, this is a four act ballet, depicting the story of Siegfried and Odette, and deserves every bit to be in this list.
Other worthy mentions include Sleeping Beauty and La Sylphide. These famous ballets have it all - great choreography, amazing story telling abilities, and brilliant performances! Kudos to these awesome artists who have given us such a treasure trove of fantastic ballets!