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1. a female ballet dancer
2. US the principal female dancer of a ballet company



a female dancer in a ballet troupe. The term was first used in the second half of the 19th century after the triumphant performances of Italian virtuoso dancers. In prerevolutionary Russia the title of ballerina was bestowed on leading female dancers of the imperial ballet troupe; a ballerina received a certain salary and performed certain roles. Today it is customary to apply the term ballerina to all female ballet dancers.


Khudekov, S. N. Istoriia tantsev, vol. 3. St. Petersburg, 1915.
Skal’kovskii, K. V teatral’nom mire. St. Petersburg, 1899.
References in periodicals archive ?
When you join, there are three basic levels: the quadrilles are the dancers at the back, the coryphees are in the middle and the sujets are the ones in the front line.
Among the coryphees and corps de ballet, I recognise principal Viktoria Tereshkina, cocooned in cream knitted layers, and soloists Yekaterrina Kondaurova and Elena Sheshina.
The roster of individual playwrights starts with M[degree sign]rtin[cedilla]} Z[superscript one]verts and An}lavs Egl[superscript one]tis, the coryphees not only in exile but very much in the Latvian theater urbi et orbi; they are followed by fourteen playwrights from Australia, America, and other places where Latvian theater flourished and may be still extant, though in a diminished form.
Albeit inadvertently, the Australian Republican Movement has linked itself to the Social Register, with fabulously wealthy people like Janet Holmes Court and Malcolm Turnbull as the coryphees.