Anna Pavlova


Anna Pavlova in Giselle (1920)
Anna Pavlova in Giselle (1920). General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Dates: January 31 (February 12 in the new calendar), 1881 - January 23, 1931

Occupation: dancer, Russian ballerina
Known for: Anna Pavlova is especially remembered for her portrayal of a swan, in The Dying Swan.
Also known as: Anna Matveyevna Pavlova or Anna Pavlovna Pavlova

Anna Pavlova Biography:

Anna Pavlova, born in Russia in 1881, was the daughter of a laundry-woman. Her father may have been a young Jewish soldier and businessman; she took the last name of her mother's later husband who likely adopted her when she was about three years old.

When she saw The Sleeping Beauty performed, Anna Pavlova decided to become a dancer, and entered the Imperial Ballet School at ten. She worked very hard there, and on graduation began to perform at the Maryinsky (or Mariinsky) Theatre, debuting on September 19, 1899.

In 1907, Anna Pavlova began her first tour, to Moscow, and by 1910 was appearing at the Metropolitan Opera House in America. She settled in England in 1912. When, in 1914, she was traveling through Germany on her way to England when Germany declared war on Russia, her connection to Russia was for all intents broken.

For the rest of her life, Anna Pavlova toured the world with her own company and kept a home in London, where her exotic pets were constant company when she was there. Victor Dandré, her manager, was also her companion, and may have been her husband; she herself distracted from clear answers on that.

While her contemporary, Isadora Duncan, introduced revolutionary innovations to dance, Anna Pavlova remained largely committed to the classic style. She was known for her daintiness, frailness, lightness and both wittiness and pathos.

Her last world tour was in 1928-29 and her last performance in England in 1930. Anna Pavlova appeared in a few silent films: one, The Immortal Swan, she shot in 1924 but it was not shown until after her death -- it originally toured theaters in 1935-1936 in special showings, then was released more generally in 1956.

Anna Pavlova died of pleurisy in the Netherlands in 1931, having refused to have surgery, reportedly declaring, "If I can't dance then I'd rather be dead."

Print Bibliography - Biographies and Dance Histories:

  • Algeranoff. My Years With Pavlova. 1957.
  • Beaumont, Cyril. Anna Pavlova. 1932.
  • Dandré, Victor. Anna Pavlova in Art and Life. 1932.
  • Fonteyn, Margo. Pavlova: Repertoire of a Legend. 1980.
  • Franks, A. H., editor. Pavlova: A Biography. 1956.
  • Kerensky, Oleg. Anna Pavlova. London, 1973.
  • Gaevsky, Vadim. The Russian Ballet - A Russian World: Russian Ballet from Anna Pavlova to Rudolf Nureyev. 1997.
  • Krasovskaya, Vera. Anna Pavlova. 1964.
  • Krasovskaya, Vera. Russian Ballet Theatre at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century vol. 2. 1972.
  • Money, Keith. Anna Pavlova: Her Life and Art. 1982.
  • Lazzarini, John and Roberta. Pavlova. 1980.
  • Magriel, Paul. Pavlova. 1947.
  • Valerian, Svetlov. Anna Pavlova. London, 1930.
  • International Dictionary of Ballet. 1993. Includes an inclusive list of her roles and a more complete bibliography.

Print Bibliography - Children's Books:

  • Anna Pavlova. I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina. Illustrated by Edgar Degas. Ages 4-8.
  • Allman, Barbara. Dance of the Swan: A Story About Anna Pavlova (A Creative Minds Biography). Illustrated by Shelly O. Haas. Ages 4-8.
  • Levine, Ellen. Anna Pavlova: Genius of the Dance. 1995.
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Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Anna Pavlova." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, August 27). Anna Pavlova. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Anna Pavlova." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 21, 2023).