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Anna Pavlova

Dancer

Biography

Anna Pavlova in action.
Anna Pavlova in Mikhail Fokine's The Dying Swan

Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova (1881–1931) was in her lifetime famed around the world, and remains an iconic figure in ballet. She toured the world and extensively throughout England, dancing seasons at the Covent Garden Opera House 1923–7.

Palova was born in Saint Petersburg. She entered the Imperial Theatre School in 1891 and in 1895 developed a friendship with the choreographer Marius Petipa that lasted until his death in 1910. She made her debut with the Mariinsky in 1898 and rose rapidly through the company, appointed ballerina in 1906. She first collaborated with choreographer Mikhail Fokine in a 1907 charity gala organized by her partner Victor Dandré and later that year danced Fokine’s The Swan (later The Dying Swan), which would become her signature role. She danced with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909, going on to London and making her first visit to the USA in 1910. In 1912 she and Dandré moved to Ivy House in Golders Green, her home for the rest of her life. In 1913 she created the Pavlova Company, with whom throughout the 1910s and 1920s she would tour the world, including South America, Egypt, India, East Asia and Australia, performing both in large cities and in the provinces. She died suddenly of pneumonia.

Frederick Ashton, inspired to dance after seeing her perform in Lima in 1917, said ‘Her name can never die, for such a living and passionate spirit must continue to haunt the world to which she gave so much delight and inspiration’.

Videos

News and features

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A Hundred Wayward Daughters: The enduring popularity of La Fille mal gardée

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21 April 2015

Ashton’s 1960 production is now the most well known, but there have been hundreds of versions of the ballet since its premiere in 1789.

Frederick Ashton Mixed Programme Dance highlight: The Fred Step

Frederick Ashton Mixed Programme Dance highlight: The Fred Step

17 October 2014

The choreographer’s signature appears in nearly all his ballets – but it's not always easy to spot.

Photos