July 30, 2012

Names for Ballerinas

I originally wrote this article for Name Candy. It's been edited and updated for this blog. Enjoy!

If you're like me, you can't get enough of all things ballet. Specifically, my TV is flooded with real life and imagined ballerinas, from shows that are making the life of a prima ballerina ready for grown-up viewers. The shows Breaking Pointe (a reality show), Bunheads (a drama/comedy), and Australia’s drama Dance Academy, are the perfect answer to my fascination with the ballet.

If you're half as fascinated as I am, you're probably also inspired by the names from these shows. The characters and real-life dancers in these shows are not always given names that scream ballet! but some do stand out. When it comes to ballerina names, I think that the most prominent examples come from famous ballerinas throughout modern history as well as names from classical ballets. Here’s a sampling of each.

Iconic Ballerina Names

Aurora - from the ballet Sleeping Beauty
Aurora is a name we associate with the northern lights. It has a lovely meaning and a fairytale image to add to its list of charms. This name is on an upward trend.

Clara - from the ballet The Nutcracker
The name of the little girl whose dreams come to life in the ballet, this seems fitting for both a ballerina and the girl next door. Though not as popular as it was in the 1800s, Clara is on an upward trend as well.

Giselle - from the ballet Giselle
Possibly the most iconic ballerina name of all time, Giselle is graceful and made for the ballet. It’s also the name of a Disney princess, though that hasn’t seemed to have hurt or helped its popularity too much.

Maya - Maya Plisetskaya, Russian ballerina (b. 1925)
Maya is another name enjoying an upswing in popularity since it first appeared on the charts in the 70s.

Sasha - from Bunheads
A Russian name with lots of appeal. This is the pet form of Alexander and is used primarily for girls in the US.

Sylvie - Sylvie Guillem, French ballerina (b. 1965)
The French form of Silvia, this is a darling-but-sophisticated name that people seem to like but don’t use as often as they should.

Svetlana - Svetlana Zakharova, Ukrainian ballerina (b. 1979)
This is a common Russian name that’s rarely found in the U.S., as the “Sv” combination makes it a bit choppy to pronounce. This name is shared by Russian ballerina Svetlana Lunkina.

Ballerina Names that End In -ina

One common characteristic shared by several ballerina names is the -ina ending, mirroring the Italian word ballerina. These names have a distinctly international feel to them. The most popular on this list is the name Nina; all the others are not in the top 1,000.

Bettina “Boo” - Character from the bygone TV show Bunheads

Galina - Galina Mezentseva, Russian ballerina (b. 1952)

Irina - Irina Kolesnikova, Russian ballerina (b. 1980)

Katrina “Kat” - Character in Dance Academy

Nina - Nina Ananiashvili, Georgian ballerina (b. 1963)

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