Pavlova on film

Inspired by the recent comment by James C. Johnston Jr on the sad lack of film footage of early 20th century dancers, I recalled how keen Anna Pavlova was for her divertissements to be filmed – as they were in California and Australia. Here’s a small taste of them.


  1. Posted August 29, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Hi Valerie,
    The title on the head of the screen (before you press the play arrow) is Anna Pavlova in Swan Lake, instead of The Dying Swan.

  2. Adrian Ryan
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    The first clip would seem to be the number known as “Christmas”, which was performed to an orchestrated version of December from Tchaikovsky’s “Seasons” piano suite. However due to some clever editing it would appear that what was the bulk of the divert is now being presented as an after performance party. If we imagine the second section, with the camera full frontal, played first and then moving into the concluding curtain calls and the performers’ exits, we may have a pretty good record of this particular number. Apart from the magical flying up onto the table !

  3. David Sumray
    Posted February 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    What is interesting is that Pavlova wears her ‘Invitation to the Dance’ dress, but the ‘Christmas’ cloak and hat. One can identify Novikoff (which would date it to no later than 1927) and also Pianowski. In ‘Christmas’, there appeared only Pavlova and her suitors, no women, so the suggestion that the second part is anything to do with that particular ballet is incorrect. What may help in identifying where this film was shot is the uniform worn by the theatre fireman, and the painting on the wall in the dressing room – sadly, that has been beyond me. Hilary Cartwright recreated ‘Christmas’ for a Canadian television broadcast in the early 1980s.

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Anna Pavlova sitting for the sculptor Seraphin Soudbinine

Anna Pavlova sitting for the sculptor Seraphin Soudbinine at her home in Hampstead, 1913. Lebrecht Music & Arts Photo Library.