On February 12, 1881 in St. Petersburg, Russia, a baby named Anna Pavlova was born. Her mother was a washerwoman, and her stepfather was a reserve soldier. She joined a company in 1899 after attending the Imperial Ballet School, and soon became prima ballerina. Since she graduated from the Imperial Dance School as a coryphée, she was allowed to skip dancing in a corps de ballet. Her breakthrough performance, and signature role, was in The Dying Swan in 1905. In 1909, she joined the Ballet Russe, and in 1911, she created her own company. Pavlova died in 1931 from pneumonia while she was on tour.