Soaring ballet jumps are perhaps the most recognizable feature of the art for outsiders but also one that continues to amaze fans and experienced trainers. There are around 10 basic jumps with many different variations. They range from quick sautés to the grand jeté leaps with mid-air splits most people think of.

The Vaganova Method is known for training dancers with high, powerful ballet jumps, and many of the dancers on this list trained under this method. However, dancers from around the world from a variety of schools have, with a lifetime of practice, become masters of the leap. Here are the 10 most powerful leaps in history, in no order. Individual style differences make ranking them in ascending format impossible.

10) Natalia Osipova

Osipova joined the Bolshoi Ballet in 2005 and won the coveted Prix Benoist de la Danse 4 years later. As the principal dancer for the Royal Ballet of London, a role she’s held since 2013, Osipova has been lauded for her performances in Romeo and Juliette, The Nutcracker, and Giselle.

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9) Ivan Vasiliev

Vasiliev started with the Bolshoi Ballet in 2006. Since then he’s won numerous prizes for his dance as well as choreography work, including the 2011 UK Critic’s Best Dancer award and was named an “Honoured Artist of Russia” in 2014. 

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8) Carlos Acosta

Starting his training at the Cuban National Ballet School, Acosta went on to dance for the English National Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Royal Ballet during his nearly two-decades-long career. 

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7) Tetsuya Kumakawa

Kumakawa, who danced for The Royal Ballet, won prizes for his original performances of the classics Don Quixote and The Nutcracker. He was the first ever Asian principal dancer for the world-renowned company. 

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6) Anna Tikhomirova

Known as one of the most skilled Bolshoi Ballet dancers, Tikhomirova performed in more than 50 shows for the company, including Giselle, Don Quixote, Cinderella and Swan Lake. In 2015, she also performed for the Stuttgart Ballet in Onegin.

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5) Maria Alexandrova

Alexandrova trained at the Moscow Choreographic Academy and won gold at the Moscow International Ballet Competition before joining the Bolshoi Ballet. She performed as the prima ballerina in a wide variety of roles until her resignation from the company this year.

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4) Farukh Ruzimatov

Unlike most other Russian dancers on this list, Ruzimatov made his career in St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Ballet. Before becoming the principal dancer then artistic director of the company, then known as the Kirov Ballet, he studied at Vaganova Academy in Leningrad.

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3) Mikhail Baryshnikov

If not the greatest ballet dancer in history, Baryshnikov is certainly the most well-known in the West. He began his career at the classical Mariinsky Ballet.  After his defection to Canada in 1974 he became a pioneer of modern dance at the New York City Ballet.

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2) Maya Plisetskaya

Plisetskaya was by far the most decorated dancer of the Soviet Union, and perhaps the greatest dancer of her generation. Even though the extent of her formal training was less than her contemporaries, she developed “an individual, iconoclastic style that capitalized on her electrifying stage presence,” according to historian Tim Scholl, adding she had a “daring rarely seen on ballet stages [of her day], and a jump of almost masculine power.”

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1) Nikolay Tsiskaridze

As a member of the Bolshoi Ballet from 1992-2013, Tsiskaridze performed over 70 classical and modern roles. In 2001, he became the youngest person to be named a People’s Artist of Russia. He currently serves as the rector of the Vaganova Ballet Academy.

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