#TBT Video: Anna Pavlova, 1916

November 28, 2001

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’ Jerome Robbins Dance Division has an astonishing collection of dance videos—more than 24,000 films, including hundreds of hours of ballet footage. Recently the library has begun digitizing its remarkable archives, and have even made some of those digitized films available online to the offsite public.

One of the most extraordinary videos in the public collection is a series of clips of Anna Pavlova from the 1916 feature film The Dumb Girl of Portici. In some of the movie’s dance sequences, Pavlova—then 35, and still at the height of her powers—displays the otherworldly lightness that made her an international star. But she also dances an earthy, vivacious Tarantella on the beach—a very different perspective on a ballet beauty. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!