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Anna Pavlova profile of Ballet Dancer

Updated on February 26, 2015

Anna Pavlov was one of the most influential Ballet dancers, her striking Ballet poses have been photographed many times. Dance schools, Societies and Theatre Company’s have continued to honour her memory. However, her lasting legacy has been in inspiring countless young girls to become future Ballet dancers.


Anna Pavlova was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the year 1884; the identity of her father has always remained unknown. However her mother, Lyubov Feodorovna, was a washerwoman who married Matvey Pavlov, a reserve soldier in the Russian Army. Although the identity of Pavlova’s father was never discovered, rumours circulated that Feodorovna had an affair with a Russian Banker, Lazar Poliakoff. As a youngster, Pavlova was told by her mother that her father was Pavel, who had died when she was a toddler. This story has to this day still remained a mystery amongst Historians and Biographers. Growing up in Russia, Pavlov came from a very poor family; Feodoronva took her to see Sleeping Beauty at the Mariinsky Theatre, St.Petersburg. After watching the performance, Pavlov expressed her desire to her mother of becoming a Ballet dancer. Her mother was fully supportive of her enthusiasm to one day grow up to be a professional Ballet performer. Two years later she applied to the St. Petersburg Imperial School of Ballet after very skillfully passing the entrance exams. The principle of the school was Marius Petipa, a famous Ballet dancer. Pavlova’s unique talent for dancing was noticed by Petipa, Ekaterina Vazem and Pavel Gerdt along with Pavlova’s teachers. Realising her dream of one day becoming a Ballet dancer, Pavlova became a dedicated and determined student at the school. A devoted work ethic and natural ability, Pavlova spent day’s tirelessly performing routines.

Graduating from the Imperial Ballet School at the age of eighteen in 1899, Pavlova was a coryphée meaning that she could go to corps de ballet, a way of passing through to smaller dance groups instead of having to go to larger dance groups. September the same year she made her debut performance on stage, dancing in a small group of three at the La Fille Mal Gardée. In 1905, Pavlov came to the attention of dance choreographer Michael Fokine's for which she landed the lead role in The Dying Swan. Her graceful dancing and use of facial expressions further enabled the audience to understand the story. The part quickly became her signature role for which she received high acclaim for. The following year, Pavlov became Prima Ballet, a promotion for which she had danced one of the most difficult routines in Giselle. Seven years into her career, she embarked on a tour of the outside of Russia visiting Europe’s major cities Berlin, Copenhagen and Prague. Again the response from touring these major cities gave Pavlova international recognition. She also visited Australia; the instrumental role played a massive influence on Australia’s Ballet scene.

In 1911 Pavlova decided to form her own theatre company, in doing so she could decided her own routines and as well as choreograph routines for her performance. Victor Dandré, her husband was in charge of promoting her tours. For the last two decades of her dance career, she toured the world over, inspiring little girls to one day take up Ballet.

After thirty years of Ballet dancing, Pavlov was by now fifty years old and no longer the youthful dancer that she once was. Completing a long and hard tour of England in 1930, she took a train to Hague; during the journey from Cannes to Paris an accident occurred on the train. Although she wasn’t injured, the January snow was freezing cold; Pavlov was only wearing a thin jacket and flimsy pyjamas. As she patiently on the train platform waiting twelve hours for the train to arrive, she caught double pneumonia. Finally arriving in Holland she was unable to perform because of pneumonia, her condition rapidly worsened. Just before she died, the last request she made was to see the swan costume for the last time. Tragically Pavlov died in the early hours of January 31, 1931, her ashes were scattered on Golders Green Cemetery, London, close to Ivy house the home she lived in London with her husband Dandré.

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