was born as Yvette von Hartmann in Paris, and made her debut there as a child with Ida Rubinstein's troupe. She later danced with the Original Ballet Russe, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and Ballet Theatre, and first performed at Jacob's Pillow in 1942 as one of two ballerinas in works by Bronislava Nijinska. The following season, she returned as what Shawn called "our prima ballerina", both teaching and performing, and was also featured on the 1944, 1948, and 1952 seasons. A recurring theme was Svetlova's liberal use of rosin onstage, which was problematic for barefoot dancers sharing the same program. This conflict may have been responsible for Svetlova's prolonged absence from the Pillow between 1952 and 1963, when she again created controversy with her rosin use, amusingly recounted in Donald McKayle's autobiography.
She returned to the Pillow in 1996 and enjoyed seeing her iconic photo by John Lindquist featured in that season's Blake's Barn exhibit. Her name lives on at the Pillow through a scholarship endowment established after her death in February 2009 at the age of 86.