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Anna Pavlova
, 1926

by Harold Cazneaux

gelatin silver photograph (image/sheet: 20.4 cm x 15.5 cm)

Anna Pavlova (1881–1931), ballerina, was initially believed to be too tall and frail to succeed at ballet, but nevertheless graduated from the Imperial Theatre School, St. Petersburg, in 1899. In 1906 she was promoted to prima ballerina. Although she performed in the opening season of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes in Paris in 1909, she did not join the avant-garde outfit, instead, in 1911, forming her own company, which toured until her death in 1931. Pavlova and her company of about forty dancers made two tours to Australia: in 1926 and 1929. During her first tour she visited Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, presenting about fifteen ballets and thirty-nine divertissements (short pieces, such as ‘The Dragonfly’ and ‘The Swan’, for which she was particularly renowned). On the first tour, Robert Helpmann was one of her Australian supernumeraries. On her second tour, she visited regional Queensland and Brisbane before progressing to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. She kept a small menagerie, which included swans, at her home in Hampstead, London.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2015
Accession number: 2015.76