Anna Pavlova, the Immortal Swan

Anna Pavlova

Reading Comprehension for January 31

Anna Pavlova loved to dance so much that she danced her way into the hearts of millions and made classical ballet popular all over the world. When people heard her name, they thought of ballet! But it was not an easy road. As she once said, "God gives talent. Work transforms talent into genius."

Anna knew exactly what she was talking about. Even though she had exceptional talent, she certainly had to work hard to become the best ballerina in the world. She attended the famous Imperial School of Ballet in Saint Petersburg. It was a major accomplishment for anyone to be accepted into that prestigious school, much less a girl with low social status. Even today, about 3,000 students apply each year to attend, but only 30 are accepted for the eight-year course of study. And those who are accepted can see a photograph on the wall of Anna in her famous swan costume.

As a child, Anna was more like the ugly duckling than a dazzling swan. She was the illegitimate daughter of a laundry woman, and her father was probably a Jewish soldier. She was born on January 31, 1881. Not much is known about her young life except that she was often sick. A single event changed her life. When she saw a performance of the ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, she decided that she wanted to become a dancer. For a frail girl with little money, this was a big dream!

Anna entered the Imperial School of Ballet at age 10. The school was founded in 1783 by the imperial decree of Empress Anna Ioannovna, and it became one of the best dance schools in the world. This school only accepts the best ballet students in the world and is still very difficult to enter.

Anna Pavlova and her classmates had a grueling schedule. Sometimes, when they had an evening recital, the students didn't get to bed until midnight. She studied math, English, geography, history, and choreography. Later in her course, she studied theater, philosophy, the history of music, and costumes. Anna had a full schedule, but she never lost her original passion for ballet. Anna worked hard for eight years in order to exhibit the effortless style of dance that became her trademark.

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