Anna Pavlova: the legend of Russian ballet
Anna Pavlova became a legend during her lifetime. She was admired, they held receptions in her honor, the ballerinas dreamed of dancing as lightly and airily as she did. Pavlova’s fees were the highest at the time, and she toured even where no one had heard of ballet. She became one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century.
The famous ballet critic Andrei Levinson spoke of her like this: “Her art was born and died with her – to dance like Pavlova, you had to be Pavlova!”
Video: Anna Pavlova “The Dying Swan” 1925
Anna Pavlova was not only the most famous, but also the most mysterious ballerina of that time. In her autobiography, she spoke in detail about the most important thing in her life – about ballet. Restraint and laconicism distinguished her from other famous dancers of that time. In her numerous interviews, Anna Pavlova spoke with pleasure about ballet, and with little emotion – about her affections.
The origin of the famous ballerina is still shrouded in mystery. According to official data, Anna was the daughter of an ordinary soldier Matvey Pavlovich Pavlov and a washerwoman Lyubov Fedorovna Pavlova. But there is a version that the father of the future ballet legend was a famous Moscow banker.
The exact origin of Anna is unknown, and she herself did not like it when she was addressed by her patronymic, preferring the last name – Pavlova.
Once her mother attended a performance at the Mariinsky Theater – The Sleeping Beauty. And it was on that evening that little Anya clearly understood: she wants to dance as beautifully as Princess Aurora. About which she told her mother with all firmness, surprising her a lot – the girl was shy.
Anya was not admitted to the Imperial Theater School right away – she did not fit in age. She was brought in again at the age of 10. And the girl began to comprehend the basics of ballet art at the school, which was distinguished by its rigor in teaching. But it was there that they also taught the classical ballet school.
No one could have thought that a small fragile creature like Anya Pavlova would become a famous ballerina who glorified the Russian school.
“Fluffy, lightness, wind” – such a description was given to the girl by the famous Marius Petipa.
Her strong will, determination, talent and love for ballet allowed her to dance on the big stage. At the very beginning of her career, many noted that she lacked the technique that Kshesinskaya, Karsavina and Preobrazhenskaya had. And so it was until Anna showed dramatic talent. And in jumps and arabesques, the weightless ballerina had no equal.
In 1899, the girl graduated from college and became a ballerina in the troupe of the Mariinsky Theater, passing the corps de ballet. And almost immediately she began to receive leading roles in leading performances.
She was especially remembered by the audience for the performance of the part of Giselle. Anna Pavlova delighted the audience with her grace, lightness and dramatic talent.
But fame was brought to her by the miniature, which Mikhail Fokine put for her to the music of Saint-Saens – “The Swan”. Thanks to the exceptional talent of Anna Pavlova, this concert number became the leading one in the “Russian Seasons” in Paris, and the ballerina herself, painted in this image, became the most famous emblem in the world of the entreprise. And the image of the Swan became Pavlova’s favorite. At the same time, she did not seek to bring something unusual and new to her dances.
Pavlova did not set out to create something sensational – she herself was a sensation, although she was hardly aware of this
Anna Pavlova performed at the Mariinsky Theater for 10 years, and then she began to tour around the world. Some believe that one of the reasons she left the theater is her marriage to Victor Dandre. Although there are no official documents, he is considered the husband of Anna Pavlova.
Victor Dandre was a controversial person: he was a fan of the ballerina’s work, attended all her performances and held an important post. Then he was accused of spending government funds, and Pavlova saved him by paying a large bail. But after that Dandra had to leave Russia, and with him – and Anna.
She performed her last performance in Russia in 1913, and never returned. Victor was one of the best impresario of the time, and it was he who popularized the image of the Swan. The management of the theater tried to keep the famous ballerina by offering favorable conditions, but the ballerina still resigned from the Mariinsky Theater.
Thanks to Anna Pavlova, the sophisticated Parisian public fell in love with Russian ballet. She performed in Diaghilev’s Russian Seasons and suggested adding ballet to the program. For various reasons, the famous ballerina left Diaghilev and went on tour around the world. Anna Pavlova could not confine herself to performing on one stage – the whole world was open to her.
During the First World War, Pavlova lived with Dandre in Great Britain, and transferred all royalties from her performances to the Red Cross. Anna Pavlova also helped orphans – they lived in her mansion, she paid for their education. In addition, she had to assign numbers to herself – due to frequent moves. But she didn’t care where, what mattered was that she could dance, stage and ballet were everything to her.
Anna Pavlova dreamed of returning to Russia, but this dream did not come true – in 1931 the legend of Russian ballet was gone. During the tour, Anna caught a cold, and a complication arose.
Anna Pavlova went down in history as an amazing, beautiful and fragile ballerina who conquered the whole world with her grace and ease. Many tried to repeat her sophisticated image, but Anna Pavlova was so alone – the one and only fragile legend of Russian ballet.
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