Born in St. Petersburg
January 31, 1881. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, to an unmarried laundress. Mother and child lived in poverty, but received occasional financial help from a wealthy married businessman who may have been Anna’s father.Find out more
Attended “Sleeping Beauty”
In 1889, eight-year-old Anna, was taken to the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg by her mother to see the ballet “The Sleeping Beauty.” She was determined from this moment on to live her life as a dancer.
Began Ballet Training
In 1891, 10-year-old Anna was accepted into the Imperial School of Ballet in St. Petersburg, where she would live and train for the next eight years.
Joined the Imperial Ballet
Anna, now A. Pavlova, graduated from the school in 1899. She joined the Imperial Ballet, a ten-year-commitment required in return for her education.Find out more
In 1905, Pavlova was promoted to Ballerina, an unusually high rank for such a young dancer. She also took an active part in a dancers’ strike, provoked in part by the tragedy of Bloody Sunday, where Imperial troops fired upon unarmed workers marching for better wages. Bloody Sunday sowed the seeds for the Russian Revolution which began 12 years later.
A Swan is Born
In 1907, Pavlova’s school friend and dance partner Michel Fokine choreographed “The Swan” for her, to music by Camille Saint Saens. The piece, less than four minutes long, was an instant success and became Anna Pavlova’s signature role.Find out more
In 1908, Pavlova toured eastern Europe as part of a select troupe from the Mariinsky. For the first time she experienced life outside the confines of the Imperial Ballet.
From Paris to London
In 1909, Pavlova danced for one abbreviated season in Paris with Diaghilev’s sensational Ballets Russes. She shortly left the company over artistic differences and headed to London with dance partner Mikhail Mordkin, where they danced at a private home for the King and Queen of England.Find out more
New York City
In 1910, Pavlova obtained a leave of absence from the Mariinsky. She began her first tour of the United States with performances in New York City.Find out more
A Home Called Ivy House
In 1912, Pavlova returned to London and purchased Ivy House. Her sometime romantic partner, Viktor Dandre, became involved in a political scandal back in Russia, and was smuggled out of St. Petersburg to join her at Ivy House in London.
Farewell to Russia
Pavlova’s last performance in Russia was on June 7, 1914. She broke all ties with the Imperial Ballet, formed her own dance company and returned to London. War, revolution, and her obsession to “bringing ballet to the entire world” would keep her from ever returning to her homeland again.
Dancing Through the USA
In the Fall of 1914, World War I began in Europe. Pavlova and her troupe embarked on a second US Tour, travelling from small town to big city across the entire country. The “Incomparable Pavlova” became a sensation with the American public.
Call from Hollywood
In 1915, Pavlova arrived in Hollywood, California where she starred in the major silent film, “La Muette de Portici,” receiving the unheard of sum of $50,000. She used this money to support her dance company and the then failing Boston Opera House.Find out more
Latin American Tours
In the year of 1917, World War I was raging on, and unrest in Russia led to violent revolution. Pavlova stayed in the Western Hemisphere and toured Mexico, Cuba, Central America and South America.
Pavlova returned to London in 1920, where she toured large and small towns throughout the British Isles. Her celebrity status and stunning fashion sense drew huge crowds everywhere.Find out more
The Far East
The first Asian tour of Pavlova’s company was in 1922. The company traveled by steamer to Japan, China, and India, and then briefly back to Europe.Find out more
Holiday in Italy
Pavlova spent a short holiday in the Italian village of Salsomaggiore in 1925. While on holiday she befriended and modeled for the dashing artist Alexander Jacoleff.
Australia & Africa
1926 was the start of the company’s first tour of New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.
Always on the Road
In 1927, Pavlova and her company continued touring and performing throughout North and South America, Asia, India, Australia, and the Near East, with occasional brief returns to her home in London.
On December 13, 1930, Pavlova performed at the Hippedrome in London. No one could have known it would be her final performance. That following Christmas was spent with Dandre and friends in Cannes, France, and preparations were made for a major 1931 European tour which would include her homeland Russia.
On January 12, 1931, Pavlova traveled with her dance company by train from Paris to the Netherlands. The train was stranded in a snowstorm and the passengers were forced to leave the train on foot. She developed pneumonia and on January 23, 1931, at a hotel in The Hague, Pavlova died. According to legend, her final words were “Bring me my Swan costume.”Find out more