Born to poor farmers in Russia, legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova (1882-1931) was a frail child who barely survived diphtheria and scarlet fever. At age ten, she began her classical training at St. Petersburg’s Imperial Ballet School.
"To enter the School of the Imperial Ballet is to enter a convent whence frivolity is banned, and where merciless discipline reigns,” she explained.
In 1899, she made her first solo performance at the Marinsky Theater. With flawless arched insteps and perfect pirouettes, she was poetry in motion.
About her genius, she once said, "No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius." Throughout her career, Pavlova rehearsed 15 hours a day.
With the guidance of her mentor, the great Russian choreographer Marius Petipa, by 1906 she became prima ballerina. Six years later, she led her own ballet company on a worldwide tour.
She said: "Dancing is my gift and my life… God gave me this gift to bring delight to others. I am haunted by the need to dance. It is the purest expression of every emotion, earthly and spiritual. It is happiness."
As an artistic emissary, she passionately shared her craft. Gathering new audiences for the ballet, she created lasting fame with her remarkable roles in Giselle and Swan Lake.
"When (I was) a small child… I thought that success spelled happiness. I was wrong. Happiness is like a butterfly which appears and delights us for one brief moment, but soon flits away," said the most beautiful dancer of her generation.
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