Ten years have passed since the shocking news of Anna Pavlova's
death flashed through a grief stricken world. It reached me
during the performance of another great dancer, who has likewise
passed into the unknown, Argentina. She was here in Los Angeles,
dancing in some Auditorium where Pavlova herself for many
seasons had exalted her audiences with her truly divine artistry.
When I was told the news, I was stunned; I felt a sharp pain
in my heart, like that from a mortal wound.
Mr. Behymer, the impresario, was deeply shaken by the tragic
news when it was imparted to him, but I urged him to announce
it from the stage. Argentina had just finished her last number
on the program, and was preparing herself in her dressing
room to dance an encore for the clamoring audience. During
this slight interlude, Mr. Behymer consented to make the sad
announcement, heartbreaking and unbearable as it was to all
who loved her and worshipped her art.
I shall never forget that poignant moment when with tears
in his eyes and a failing voice he sobbed out the ominous
words that stood spellbound in silent grief and reverence.
I saw tears running down saddened faces. The curtain fell
on the last touching words of Baehymer, a profoundly felt
tribute to the greatest dancer artist of the world.
When Argentina heard the news in her dressing room, she fainted,
and when she recovered, she sobbed and mourned as we did.
Today, in writing these words, I feel again those mournful
moments of ten years back when will live in my heart forever.
My present home in Hollywood is about two blocks away from
the house in which pavlova lived, when she was making the
silent film, "The Dumb Girl of Portici". Often,
when I pass by, I think of that unforgettable time when we
were together in the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, and
of our professional life at the Maryinsky Theatre. I think
of our long unbroken friendship which endured throughout our
entire lives and artistic careers in Russia, in Europe and
in the Amerces. I never cease to feel the irreparable loss
to the entire world of that incomparable dancer and exquisite
human being who has enriched millions of lives by giving so
much of spiritual beauty to existence.
Pavlova has inspired untold numbers to dance, and to create
beauty in pursuit of the ideal patterned by her. To this day,
in spite of the many excellent dancers, and there are among
them a few who at times conjure up a fugitive vision of her,
none has attained the perfection which was hers. Providence
endowed her not only with a beautiful soul and divine talent,
but also with the ideal body for the dance. It was these combined
qualities of both spiritual and physical beauty which made
her art sublime, and enabled her to reach out and stir the
personal emotions of each and every member of her audiences.
Her appearance on the stage always produced an electric effect.
Cultivated or primitive, those who saw her were moved and
responded to her arresting and vibrant personality.
After Pavlova had achieved her great success in Russia, she
often suffered from moods of depression in which she lamented
the limitations of being permitted to dance only before Russian
audiences. Russia invited the great dancers of Europe and
applauded their art, but Russian dancers had only Russian
Her passionate yearnings were to dance before the capitals
of Europe outside Russia. This longing of hers fired my imagination
and stirred in me the growing determination to work towards
a realization, to take Pavlova to the world outside, to present
her to the enraptured audiences of Europe.
This ambition came to a realization in 1908, when I formed
my own company with Pavlova as ballerina, and she appeared
in the first ballet performances of a Russian company in Europe
outside Russia. I never dreamed at the time that not only
thousands but millions would see and worship her art, but
today it is a historical fact that this did take place, and
in far countries not at that time envisioned in our youthful
Audiences of the entire world have applauded the exquisite
Pavlova, surrounded by her company of dancers, in settings
and theatres, which, mediocre as they were at the times, could
not dim her lustre. How they would have marvelled if they
could have seen her in the setting of the sumptuous Maryinsky
Theatre, in St. Petersburg, surrounded by the most famous
dancers, in ballets created by the greatest choreographers,
against a background of the most lavish of scenery and costumes.
Amidst all the brilliance, she outshone everyone, even the
greatest dancers of her time. That would indeed be a vision,
such as one finds only in a dream.
Each time that I pass her former residence here, a profound
sadness overwhelms my heart, the regret that she was unwilling
to take my advice, often repeated and urged upon her after
she complained of her heath and of her knee, on her last tour,
"Take a rest for a year, rearrange your repertory, and
when you are completely recovered, you will start out again
with renewed enthusiasm" I said. She was unwilling to
"No, no! How can I?" she would cry. "What
would become of my dancers? How can I disband my company?"
That concern over her dancers, their career, their livelihood,
spurred her above all other considerations to go on at the
price of her own health, alas, in the end, of her very life.
Once Pavlova wept that she was to be limited to Russia with
her dancing, when she longed for the world. Now the world
weeps for her, that it has been deprived of her dancing, and
salutes her memory as the Sublime Dancer, the Dance Incarnate,
January 23, 1941
Western Union January 24th,
To: The American Dance, Los Angeles, 306 N. Vermont
and The Dance, Editorial of . 25 W. 43rd St.,
Anna Pavlova no more. Inconsolable deep sorrow
crushes me. How can I utter words as a tribute
to her unperishable art. She has been the living
symbol of the divine etheral quintessence of the
Dance. I bow to her memory and weep the loss of
my dear great friend.
To: Victor Dandre
Unbearable thought that beloved Anna Pavlovna
Njurotshka is no more. Feel that mountains and
Earth should crack as deeply as our bleeding hearts.
Weeping sorrowfully bring you my profound reverent
grief. May Almighty give you courage strength
to bear the loss and erect the greatest sanctum
to her in memory of her sublime art. Distressed
not near you this moment your devoted Adja.