|Tamara Toumanova in a promotional portrait|
Shortly after the Russian Revolution of 1917, Toumanova's mother, Eugenia Toumanova, left Georgia, Russia looking for her first husband, Konstantin Zakharov. She was pregnant at the time. She gave birth to Toumanova in Siberia. It has been verified that Toumanova is of Georgian ancestry.
Toumanova's parents became separated during the revolution. Toumanova was 18 months old before her parents were found each other. The family went from Russia to Shanghai, China. They lived there for a year. They then moved to Cairo. After living in refugee camps, the family moved to Paris. There was a large Russian émigré community there.
After moving to Paris, Toumanova was given piano lessons and studied ballet with Olga Preobrajenska. Toumanova said she was her "first and only permanent teacher" and an "immortal friend". She made her debut at the Paris Opera at the age of ten in the children's ballet L'Éventail de Jeanne. George Balanchine saw her in ballet class and hired her for de Basil's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as one of the three "baby ballerinas".
- The Examiner. "Is Ballet Dancing Slavery?" April 19, 1952 
- Gottlieb, Robert: George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker. HarperCollins 2004, p. 136; ISBN 0-06-075070-7
- International Encyclopedia of Dance. Ed. Selma Jeanne Cohen. Oxford University Press 1998, vol. 6, p. 182f; ISBN 0-19-512310-7
- Tracy & DeLano, Balanchine's Ballerinas: Conversations with the Muses. Linden Press 1983, p. 66; ISBN 067146146X
- "Книга А. Васильева: "Этюды о моде и стиле" РУССКИЕ ДИВЫ". http://www.orgsun.com/ru/fashion/history-of-fashion/sketches-of-fashion-and-style-vasiliev/hist3.php.
- Tamara Toumanova notice of death. Michaelminn.net (1996-05-29). Retrieved on 2011-09-30.