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Anna Pavlova was a famous Russian prima ballerina and choreographer. The company she founded in 1911 was the first to tour ballet around the world.
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The performance took place at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg—the same theater where, as a child, Anna Pavlova had first decided to become a dancer.
Pavlova's career soon blossomed. With every performance, she gained increasing critical acclaim and subsequent fame. But it was in 1905 that Anna Pavlova made her breakthrough performance, when she danced the lead solo in choreographer Michael Fokine's The Dying Swan,
with music by Camille Saint-Saëns. With her delicate movements and intense facial expressions, Anna managed to convey to the audience the play's complex message about the fragility and preciousness of life. The Dying Swan was to become Anna Pavlova's signature role.
Anna continued to rise quickly through the ranks. By 1906 she had already successfully danced the difficult part of Giselle. Just seven years into her ballet career, Anna was promoted to prima ballerina.
Accompanied by a handful of other dancers, in 1907, Anna took leave on her first tour abroad. The tour stopped at capital cities throughout Europe—including Berlin, Copenhagen and Prague, among others. In response to the critical acclaim her performances received, Anna signed up for a second tour in 1908.
In 1909, after having completed her second tour, Anna was invited to join Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russe on its historic tour, during the opening season in Paris. Anna's fellow dancers in the company included the likes of Laurent Novikoff, Thadee Slavinsky, Olga Spessivtzeva, Anatole Vilz and Alexander Volinine. While touring, the Ballet Russe frequently visited Australia, and there played an instrumental role in Russian ballet's influence on the future of Australian dance. During 1910, Anna toured the United Kingdom and the United States. When she wasn't dancing solo, her more notable dance partners included Laurent Novikoff and Pierre Vladimirov.
In 1911 Anna Pavlova took a major step in her career—by forming her own ballet company. In so doing, Anna was able to retain complete creative control over performances and even choreograph her own roles. Anna put her husband, Victor Dandré, in charge of organizing her independent tours. For the final two decades of her ballet career, she toured with her company all over the world, as little girls watched in awe and were inspired to become dancers, the same way Anna had been at the Mariinsky Theatre all those years ago.
In 1930, when Anna was 50 years old, her 30-year dance career had come to physically wear on her. She decided to take a Christmas vacation after wrapping up a particularly arduous tour in England. At the end of her vacation, she boarded a train back to The Hague, where she planned to resume dancing. On its way from Cannes to Paris, the train was in an accident. Anna was unharmed in the accident, but she was left waiting out the delay for 12 hours on the platform.
It was a snowy evening, and Anna was only wearing only a thin jacket and flimsy silk pajamas. Once in Holland, within days of the accident, she developed double pneumonia.
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