Anna Pavlova

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Anna Pavlova
Anna Pavlova, ca. 1905.
Born February 16, 1882(1882-02-16)
Ligovo, Saint Petersburg
Died January 23, 1931(1931-01-23) (aged 49)
The Hague, Netherlands
Field Ballet
Anna Pavlova in The Dying Swan. St Petersburg 1905
Anna Pavlova as Lise in La Fille Mal Gardée. St Petersburg 1912

Anna Pavlova (St Petersburg, 12 February 1881 – The Hague, Netherlands, 23 January 1931) [1] was a Russian, and later English, ballerina of the early 20th century.

She is widely regarded as one of the finest classical ballet dancers in history and was most noted as a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Serge Diaghilev.

Pavlova is most recognised for the creation of the rôle The Dying Swan and, with her own company, would become the first ballerina to tour ballet around the world.

Training and style[change | edit source]

The young Pavlova's years of training were difficult, as classical ballet did not come easily to her. Her severely arched feet, thin ankles, and long limbs clashed with the small, compact body favoured for ballerinas at the time. Her fellow students taunted her with such nicknames as The broom and La petite sauvage (The little savage). Undeterred, Pavlova trained to improve her technique. She took extra lessons from the noted teachers of the day. She was never a perfect technician, but had delicacy, lightness and grace.

Career[change | edit source]

She became prima ballerina of the Imperial Ballet in 1906. She worked briefly for Diaghilev, but would not dance in the new avant-garde ballets which were being created, such as The Firebird. The role was given to the equally good Tamara Karsavina, who became their regular prima ballerina.

England[change | edit source]

Pavlova lived in London for many years, from 1912 until her death in 1931. After leaving Russia, Pavlova settled in Ivy House on North End Road, near Hampstead, where she lived for the rest of her life. While in London Pavlova was influential in the development of British ballet, most notably inspiring the career of Alicia Markova.

The house had an ornamental lake where she would feed her pet swans, and where there is a statue of the ballerina by the Scots sculptor George Henry Paulin. It is now the London Jewish Cultural Centre but a Blue Plaque marks it as Pavlova's previous home and a site of significant historical interest.[2]

She toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. This was probably how the sticky Australian cake became known as the 'Pavlova'.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Crane, Debra & Mackrell, Judith 2000. The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. Oxford University Press, Oxford. p364
  2. Blue plaque at London Jewish Cultural Centre (image)