Pavlova's ashes will be sent to Russia in accordance with ballerina's dying wish

Final movement opens as Russia claims ashes of world's greatest dancer
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The Independent Online

The ashes of Anna Pavlova, regarded as the greatest ballerina the world has known, are to be sent to her Russian homeland nearly 70 years after her death.

The ashes of Anna Pavlova, regarded as the greatest ballerina the world has known, are to be sent to her Russian homeland nearly 70 years after her death.

Pavlova's remains will be reburied in the Novodevichy Cemetery in the city, in accordance with her stated wishes, on 14 September, the ITAR-Tass news agency in Moscow said. Previously unseen archives are said to show the ballerina's dying wish was that her remains be returned to Russia after the fall of communism.

Pavlova was born in Russia's imperial capital, St Petersburg, in 1881, and she created a sensation dancing for the famed Mariinsky Theatre there. In 1912 she moved to London, from where she launched world tours that introduced many people to classical ballet.

She died in 1931 at the age of 50 in a hotel in The Hague, four days after catching a cold on a train from Paris. But she was cremated at Golders Green cemetery in north London, a short distance from her home.

She took dance to Australia and South America and was an inspiration to thousands in the professions, notably the British dancer and Royal Ballet choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton. During her lifetime Soviet officals noted with disdain that she was "the darling of wicked capitalist audiences of Europe and the United States".

Pavlova first performed in London at the Palace Theatre with Nijinsky, for Diaghilev, and it was in London that she made her home.

The swans on the miniature lake at her house in Hampstead were the inspiration for hercelebrated performance of Saint-Saens' The Dying Swan.

Among the many stories that surround her memory, it is claimed that she made girls practise until their feet bled and that she threw wine over those who failed to meet her high standards. It was also claimed by one impresario that on her deathbed she had unconsciously performed some of the movements of The Dying Swan, which she had performed more than 4,000 times.

Fans of Pavlova still visit the Golders Green Crematorium once a year to honour her, a practice that will have to end if her ashes are sent to Moscow. Officials at the crematorium refused to comment yesterday on the suggestion that her ashes would be sent to Moscow. However, a spokesman for the Royal Ballet said that if the move was in keeping with her wishes, it would be "right and proper" that it was done.

The list of notable crematees at Golders Green includes: Austen Chamberlain, Ramsay MacDonald, Sigmund Freud, Hugh Gaitskell, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Vivien Leigh, Peter Sellers, Sid James, Peter Cook, George Bernard Shaw, T S Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, H G Wells and Marc Bolan.

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