Queer Places:
Golders Green Crematorium, 60 Hoop Ln, London NW11 7NL, UK

Arnold Genthe, Anna Pavlova, 1915, Library of CongressAnna Pavlovna Pavlova (February 12 [O.S. January 31] 1881 – January 23, 1931), was a Russian prima ballerina of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. She was a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev. Pavlova is most recognized for her creation of the role of The Dying Swan and, with her own company, became the first ballerina to tour around the world, including South America, India and Australia.[2]

Victor Dandré, her manager and companion, asserted he was her husband in his biography of the dancer in 1932: Anna Pavlova: In Art & Life (Dandre 1932, author's foreword). He died on 5 February 1944 and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and his ashes placed below those of Anna.

Some speculated that the divorce of Malvina Hoffman was due to an affair that she had with Pavlova.[30]

Victor Dandré wrote of Pavlova's many charity dance performances and charitable efforts to support Russian orphans in post-World War I Paris

...who were in danger of finding themselves literally in the street. They were already suffering terrible privations and it seemed as though there would soon be no means whatever to carry on their education.[23]

Fifteen girls were adopted into a home Pavlova purchased near Paris at Saint-Cloud, overseen by the Comtesse de Guerne and supported by her performances and funds solicited by Pavlova, including many small donations from members of the Camp Fire Girls of America who made her an honorary member.[24]

During her life, she had many pets including a Siamese cat, various dogs, and many kinds of birds, including swans.[25] Dandré indicated she was a lifelong lover of animals and this is evidenced by photographic portraits she sat for, which often included an animal she loved. A formal studio portrait was made of her with Jack, her favorite swan.[25]

In the spring of 1928, Rupert Doone turned down the chance to tour as Anna Pavlova’s partner; but this left him free, in July of the following year, to accept an invitation to join Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes as a soloist.

While travelling from Paris to The Hague, Pavlova became very ill, and worsened on her arrival in The Hague. She sent to Paris for her personal physician, Dr Zalewski to attend her.[26] She was told that she had pneumonia and required an operation. She was also told that she would never be able to dance again if she went ahead with it. She refused to have the surgery, saying "If I can't dance, then I'd rather be dead." She died of pleurisy, in the bedroom next to the Japanese Salon of the Hotel Des Indes in The Hague, twenty days short of her 50th birthday.

Victor Dandré wrote that Anna Pavlova died a half hour past midnight on Friday, January 23, 1931, with her maid Marguerite Létienne, Dr. Zalevsky, and himself at her bedside. Her last words were, "Get my 'Swan' costume ready."[27] Victor and Marguerie dressed her body in her favourite beige lace dress and placed her in a coffin with a sprig of lilac. At 7am, a Russian Orthodox priest arrived to say prayers over her body. At 7:30am, her coffin was taken to the mortuary chapel attaching the Catholic hospital in The Hague.[26]

In accordance with old ballet tradition, on the day she was to have next performed, the show went on, as scheduled, with a single spotlight circling an empty stage where she would have been. Memorial services were held in the Russian Orthodox Church in London. Anna Pavlova was cremated, and her ashes placed in a columbarium at Golders Green Crematorium, where her urn was adorned with her ballet shoes (which have since been stolen).

Pavlova's ashes have been a source of much controversy, following attempts by Valentina Zhilenkova and Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov to have them flown to Moscow for interment in the Novodevichy Cemetery. These attempts were based on claims that it was Pavlova's dying wish that her ashes be returned to Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union. These claims were later found to be false, as there is no evidence to suggest that this was her wish at all. The only documentary evidence that suggests that such a move would be possible is in the will of Pavlova's husband, who stipulated that, if Russian authorities agreed to such a move and treated her remains with proper reverence, then the crematorium caretakers should agree to it. Despite this clause, the will does not contain a formal request or plans for a posthumous journey to Russia.

The most recent attempt to move Pavlova's remains to Russia came in 2001. Golders Green Crematorium had made arrangements for them to be flown to Russia for interment on 14 March 2001, in a ceremony to be attended by various Russian dignitaries. This plan was later abandoned after Russian authorities withdrew permission for the move. It was later revealed that neither Pavlova's family nor the Russian Government had sanctioned the move and that they had agreed the remains should stay in London.[28][29]

Pavlova is also connected with Gertrud Bodenwieser.

My published books:

See my published books