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The range of repertory these pictures indicates may come as a surprise to some. A graduate of the ballet school of the Imperial Theater in St. Petersburg in 1899, Pavlova joined the Maryinsky Ballet, gifted enough to skip the corps de ballet. Even the early photos show the fusing of form and content that made this exalted exponent of classicism so dramatic a dance-actress. As the Russian critic Andre Levinson wrote elsewhere, she was the embodiment of emotion saturated by form and of form saturated by emotion. The depth of her greatness was originally plumbed in the full 19thcentury classics, recalled in ballets such as ''Giselle'' and ''La Bayaddere,'' both only truly appreciated then in her native Russia.
BY 1908, she was touring abroad, demonstrating a taste for working independently and presaging the Pavlova company of 65 she would herself direct for years. She did not leave Russia for good until 1914, but even the pictures of her production of ''Giselle'' at her 1910 Metropolitan Opera House debut show her as a rebel within tradition. In place of the standard Romantic tutus, the ghostmaidens, or wilis, of Act II, wear Duncan-style chiffon draperies.
In his own capacity as a photographer, Mr. Money personally re-shot original prints and, as he says, ''then made new prints, trying to correct any fading or tonal deficiencies.'' Considering that Pavlova frequently had her photos airbrushed, this collection of images is stunning, but it is also highly idealized.
The text is less accessible than it should be. It may prove heavy going for those unfamiliar with the first names of 19th-century Russian ballerinas, many of which are omitted, or with ballet scenarios. Much of the documentation comes from previous accounts and memoirs. But there are two new features. One is Mr. Money's correction of previous errors or his presentation of plausible alternate versions of earlier accounts of certain incidents in Pavlova's life. The second feature is new information, including interviews with Pavlova's associates, and, more significant, Russian material previously unavailable in English. An important source is the series of yearbooks of the Russian Imperial Theaters describing Pavlova's first major roles. They document as never before a strong technique belied by an ethereal appearance.
As have others, Mr. Money speculates upon Pavlova's presumed illegitimacy without accepting her own denial of it. But, of course, Russia was not a Victorian society and illegitimacy there was more accepted than in Britain or its former colonies. In the official chronology of the Maryinsky School, published in 1938, there are dancers openly identified as having been born out of wedlock. One was Eugenia Sokolova, the ballerina who introduced Pavlova into the school.
MR. MONEY sees Pavlova mainly as a missionary for her art but one compelled by box-office considerations to take a relatively safe route. The usual view is that she refused to join Serge Diaghilev's innovative company because she wanted to head her own troupe. Using fresh material, Mr. Money asserts instead that she failed to ally herself with Diaghilev because he negotiated with her in bad faith in 1910.
Zealous in her efforts to make people love ballet, Pavlova succeeded mainly in making them love only her. Mr. Money is right that in the long run she laid a groundwork for a future appreciation of ballet. In the short run, he sees her a prisoner of her superstar status. And yet that strong personality is what identified her most as a modern and independent woman, anything but old-fashioned. Mr. Money quotes a journalist named Marcelle Azra Hincks, who in 1910 made the crucial connection among three individualists: ''We never, in fact, think of criticizing or analyzing the personality of a dancer in the same way as a dramatic critic endeavors to seize and define those particular characteristics of which an actor's personality consists.'' The exceptions, she said, were the modern dancers, Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, who were off ''the beaten track.'' But, she went on, now Pavlova had joined them in one of ''the most severe art forms,'' ballet.Continue reading the main story