Friday, February 12, 2016

Anna Pavlova on talent and hard work

AP Cygne.jpg

The legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova was born on February 12th 1881. She was a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes and established a more natural way of dancing in classical ballet, emphasizing on sensibility and passion, rather than technique. She is mostly recognized from the Dying Swan, a solo that Michel Fokine choreographed for her.

She created her own company with which she was the first ballerina to tour around the world. In a time when the only means for travelling where slow boats and trains, she travelled through Europe, Asia, North and Central America and Australia. She gave more than 4000 performances in seventeen years -she was the first to bring ballet in many of the places she visited.

She kept on dancing until her early death at the age of 48. It is claimed that her last words were: Get my swan costume ready. In the show she was supposed to dance a few days later a spotlight was circling the empty stage where she would have been.

On hard work and success

Throughout her career, Pavlova emphasized the value of hard work and persistence. For herself, ballet was not coming easily and had to try hard to realize her dancing dreams.

The first time she auditioned for the Imperial Ballet School at the age of nine she was not accepted –she had to audition again the next year, this time successfully. During her studies and her dancing career she kept encountering difficulties: Her body was not conforming to the ballet ideals of her time and she was technically weaker than other dancers. What made her stand out was her passion and fragility, in combination with her hard work.

She used to say:
Master technique and then forget about it and be natural. 
No one can arrive from being talented alone, work transforms talent into genius. 
To follow without halt, one aim; there is the secret of success. And what exactly is success? For me it is to be found not in applause, but in the satisfaction of feeling that one is realizing one's ideal. 
As is the case in all branches of art, success depends in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by dint of hard work.

Did you know that?
  • Due to her rigid feet, it was extremely hard for her to dance on point with the shoes of her time , which didn’t provide much support. So, she used to craft her own shoes, adding pieces of wood to the soles and arching the front part. Although at her time she received criticism for this practice, her invention is considered a precursor of the pointes shoes as we know them nowadays.

  • During her travels she inspired many painters who attempted to transfer her movement on canvas. Below works by Valentin Serov and John Lavery.


  • The popular desert pavlova was created in her honor while she was touring in Australia and New Zealand –both countries claim its creation.


  • During her lifetime she had several pets: cats, dogs and various kinds of birds, including swans.
  • anna-pavlova-with-swan-jack

Great women of dance.

Nijinsky's last jump.

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