The Art of Dancing by Anna Pavlova

Found in the first issue of The Dancing Annual (1923) from the Mayfair Press in London. Anna Pavlova had been living in London for over 12 years and this appears finely written, possibly ghosted, with some vehemence towards a style  ('the lowest slang of dancing') that was prevalent in the early 1920s and has never strictly gone away...

The Art of Dancing by Anna Pavlova

To me, the fascination of dancing lies in this: you can express with it so many moods, and so many beautiful thoughts and poems.

People imagine that self-expression in dancing is only for those who, through many long years of training, have arrived  at the perfection of their art in its highest forms of drama, poesy, or tragedy.  But though this is true, so far as it goes, it does not mean that all those who are not expert ballet dancers are for that reason unable to enjoy some share of its pleasures.

The ball-room, properly understood, is a place where many of the charms of the dance, – and its charms are manifold – may be tasted by all. Grace of movement, dignity of bearing, artistry of step – all these are elements in the equipment of a good dancer, and the outward signs of the inward personality expressed through them. Of course, there are the vulgarities of style and step: the sharp, jerky movements, the exaggerated swaying; but these are only the clumsy efforts of crude minds to express personalities that had better remain obscure. All that is, so to speak, the lowest slang of dancing.  To me, it is very painful to see. Also, it has, I feel sure, helped to cheapen ball-room dancing in the eyes of many, whom, but for that, would have appreciated it for what it really is – a true, though a light side of the arts.

We should then cultivate in dancing only the beautiful, the unusual, or the whimsical; be always graceful, and try always to keep a dignified appearance. In that way, we should not only find self-expression, but express that which is best and most artistic in us.

I do not want anyone to think I am advocating a dull, sullen attitude towards ball-room behaviour; on the contrary, I believe in the joie de vivre most strongly, especially in artistic forms of amusement, such as dancing.

Be light-hearted, even a little light-headed, if you want to, but don't spoil a beautiful art and a charming pleasure by grotesque distortion. Don't, to reverse an old saying, 'Try to make a sows ear out of a silk purse.'  'Stunts' are all very well in their place – which is the circus ring. 

 But let us keep to what you in England call the jolly side of things.  Remember that to dance is to keep young – and that is a very jolly thing, is it not?  There are thousands who would give all they possess for youth. I consider that youth is in the mind as much as in the body; so if you make your feet follow your thoughts, you have done something worthwhile. You are hunting happiness, and she is not such a difficult quarry, if you go the right way to work. Don't run after her – just try merry, graceful dancing, and you may find that you have her for a partner.

3 thoughts on “The Art of Dancing by Anna Pavlova

  1. admin Post author

    After writing this I put it on ABE where it has sat for 4 months at £45 – but it should sell. A really fine one might be worth more and vice versa…

  2. Mordo crosswords

    John Dryden (1631-1700), the above artist of the Restoration Age, was built-in at Aldwincle, a apple abreast Oundle in Northampton shire. His benevolent admirable ancestor called Sir Eramus Dryden was a baroner and his mother was Lady Pickering, the aboriginal accessory of Sir Gilbert Pickering. He accustomed his primary apprenticeship in the apple academy of neighbouring Tichmarsh.


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