I have always loved ballet. Since the Russians are so well known for it, I thought I would talk about one of the most famous ballet icons of all time, Anna Pavlova (Анна Павловна [Матвеевна] Павлова). Anna was born in 1881 in a suburb of St. Petersburg. Her passion for ballet began when her mother took her to see Marius Petipa’s production of Sleeping Beauty at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater. Her mother took her to audition for the Imperial Ballet School, but Anna was initially rejected due to her “sickly” physique. She was, however, finally accepted in 1891. Her time at the school was difficult. She did not have an aptitude for technique and her body type was much different than what was desired at the time for a ballerina (these aspects would still haunt her throughout her career). Despite all the obstacles, Anna was determined and in 1899, she graduated into the Imperial Ballet as a coryphee, not the typical corps de ballets.
It was not long before Pavlova was a favorite of the public. She worked as a principal dancer not only with the Imperial Ballet but also with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe. She also became the most widely touring ballerina of the time, traveling not only to the Americas, but also to Asia and the South Pacific. What she is best known for today is her role of “The Dying Swan” choreographed for her by Michel Fokine.
There are only a handful of film clips of her performances. The one below is my favorite. It is the “solo rondino”.