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Svetlana Beriosova (1932–1998) by Baron, 1954 [ and Michael Somes (1917-1994), in Rinaldo and Armida] Corbis

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Beriosova, Svetlana (1932–1998), ballet dancer, was born on 24 September 1932 at Kaunas, Lithuania, the daughter of Nicholas Beriozoff (1906–1996), dancer and ballet master, then a member of the Lithuanian State Ballet, and his first wife, Maria (d. 1941). Her grandparents had migrated to ...

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Tamara Platonovna Karsavina (1885–1978) by Emil Otto Hoppé, c. 1911 [in the title role of The Firebird by Michel Fokine] Getty Images – Emil Otto Hoppé

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Karsavina, Tamara Platonovna (1885–1978), ballet dancer, was born in St Petersburg on 9 March (25 February os) 1885, the daughter of Platon Karsavin. She grew up with her brother, Lev, in an artistic family (her father was a danseur, mime, and ballet teacher with the ...

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Anna Pavlovna Pavlova (1881–1931) by Sir John Lavery, 1911 [La mort du cygne: Anna Pavlova] by courtesy of Felix Rosenstiel's Widow & Son Ltd., London, on behalf of the Estate of Sir John Lavery; © Tate, London, 2004

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Pavlova, Anna Pavlovna [formerly Anna Matveyevna Pavlova] (1881–1931), ballet dancer, was born in St Petersburg on 31 January/12 February 1881 according to an entry in the register of the St Petersburg military hospital; she later changed her second name to Pavlovna...

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Nicholai Polakovs (1900?–1974) by Humphrey Spender, 1935 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Polakovs [Poliakoff, Poliakov], Nicholai [performing name Coco] (1900?–1974), clown, was believed to have been born near Riga, in Latvia in the Russian empire, probably on 5 October 1900, the son of Peter Polakovs, a cobbler who eked out his meagre living by working as a property master in the local theatre, where his mother was a wardrobe mistress. Nothing more is known about her. As a youngster he persuaded his father to allow him to follow a circus career, and during a four-year apprenticeship with the circus of ...