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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Anna Pavlova

b. 1881, Saint Petersburg; d. 1931, The Hague, Netherlands

The Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, whose delicacy and grace mesmerized audiences and inspired a generation of dancers and choreographers, entered the Imperial Ballet School at the Maryinsky Theater in 1891, at the age of ten. She trained at the school for eight years and in 1899 joined the Imperial Ballet. She made a meteoric rise through the hierarchy of female dancers, attaining prima ballerina status in 1906, and soon thereafter began touring throughout Europe, sometimes appearing with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris. Her most famous solo, The Dying Swan, was first performed in 1907. In 1910, she broke her contract with the Imperial Ballet to form her own company and settled in London. She continued to tour, maintaining a grueling schedule of engagements in cities, large and small, around the world, while performing a repertoire that consisted chiefly of ballet. Pavlova’s almost missionary zeal to bring dance to the uninitiated kept her on the road most of her life. She died of pneumonia at the age of fifty.