Graduated from the Petersburg Theatre School, 1890.
Trained by Enrico Cecchetti. From 1890-1917, prima ballerina at the Mariinskii Theatre. Mistress of Tsarevich Nikolai Aleksandrovich (the future Tsar Nicholas II) before his marriage.
Performed in Vienna, 1903. Paris, 1908-1909, Ballets Russes seasons, Warsaw, 1909. With Diaghilev, 1911-1912.
During 1917, when her mansion in Petersburg was occupied by the Bolshevik Party, Lenin used to make speeches to the crowds from the balcony of the house. From 1920, lived in Paris. In 1929, set up her own ballet school.
Among her famous pupils were T. Riabushinskaia, B. Kniazev, I. Chauvire and M. Fonteyn.