When we talk of ballet, we always think of graceful people with a very uncanny ability to dance beautifully, stirring your emotions and your soul.
There is always that grace and wonder in ballet that I found irresistible. But before anyone gets into such state of beauty, there is so much work to be done. Talent is not just the ticket to pass through. But dedication and hard work are needed too.
For this Monday, we will feature the storybook of the life of Anna Pavlova, the most celebrated and influential prima ballerina of all time. Very much known for her signature role in The Dying Swan, Anna Pavlova is a mix of natural talent and grim determination to succeed.
Anna Pavlova was born in St, Petersburg, Russia on February 12, 1881. Her mother was a laundress or a washerwoman, and she often helped her with her work, hanging the clothes in the line to dry.
Her father was unknown, though it was told that the young Anna told people his father’s named was Pavel. And that he died when she was just a toddler. Her stepfather, Matvey Pavlov, married her mother when she was three. He adopted her thus giving her her surname.
Anna first found out her love for ballet when her mother took her to see a performance of The Sleeping Beauty when she was eight. Since then, Anna has dreamed to be a ballet dancer and her mother has been supportive of her.
She was rejected the first time she auditioned to a ballet school because of her frail figure. But Anna persisted. And at age 10, she was finally accepted in the Imperial Ballet School.
But being accepted is just the beginning of other challenges that Anna has to overcome. She was always taunted for being so thin and sickly, which is very much the opposite of the body structure wanted for the ballerinas of that time.
But still, Anna persisted.
Though she seemed to have acquire a natural talent in the art of dancing, that did not stop Anna from working hard and tirelessly practice and improve herself. Soon, she was making waves and garnering attention and critical acclaims.
“No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius.”
And in this beautifully and gracefully illustrated book by Laurel Snyder, she captures all the perseverance that Anna made in a captivating prose that seems to dance as Anna dances through the page. It also displays her legacy in her belief that ballet is not just for the elite but for everyone. Founding a company in 1911 which was the first to tour ballet around the world, Anna captures the hearts of people from all over and ignited the love for dancing. She also dedicated many of her performances for charitable purposes for Russian orphans post World War 1, even adopting girls and giving them a home.
Anna Pavlova’s life and legacy surely gives us an inspiration to pursue our dreams and do the work that our passion requires from us. Success doesn’t merely comes to those who wait for her dreams to come to her but to those who take a step towards their dreams.
Her dedication and love for her craft and her success that results from it, even when all the odds were against her, shows us that there is really nothing that can stop us but our own selves in pursuing what we want. However, her legacy also made us aware that success doesn’t really amount to just being famous but also about giving back and inspiring people at the work we do.
And I do highly recommend this beautiful picture book by Laurel Snyder with illustrations by Julie Morstad in capturing the grace, passion and dedication of Anna Pavlova’s life. I do believe this will capture the hearts of children and adults alike and pass on the values that Anna’s example has shown.
What is the biggest single dream in your life that you want to pursue or is pursuing right now? What challenges have you meet in reaching that dream? Share with us your story. I would definitely love to hear about it.
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
Ratings: 5/5 stars
Author: Laurel Snyder
Age Level: 5+