Born near Tomsk, she trained at Petrograd's Akim Volynsky's School of Russian Ballet with Maria Romanova (the mother of Galina Ulanova). She also studied with the renowned Russian ballet mistress Agrippina Vaganova, and is credited with popularising the Vaganova method in the West. She danced professionally with various ensembles such as the GATOB (1925-1929) and the Flying Russian Ballet before defecting in 1929. She defected in Shanghai as she was hopeful she could join Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. As she heard of his death, she decided to stay there and danced with George Goncharov.
In 1943, she gave up dancing and opens a dance studio in Knightsbridge then the West End. She spent a number of years teaching at the Sadler's Wells Ballet and Sadler's Wells Ballet School, training some of the leading English dancers of the 20th century. She also taught at the Ballet School of the La Scala Theatre in Milan. She became a permanent teacher at the Royal Danish Ballet school in the 1950s, again training some of the school's greatest dancers.
- Carla Fracci, former Principal of Italian La Scala theatre
- Alicia Alonso, Cuban Prima Ballerina Assoluta and founder of the Cuban National Ballet
- Erik Bruhn, former Principal of the Royal Danish Ballet
- Henry Danton, former Soloist of the Sadler's Wells Ballet
- Dame Margot Fonteyn, English Prima Ballerina Assoluta of The Royal Ballet
- Henning Kronstam, former Principal of the Royal Danish Ballet
- Dame Gillian Lynne, former Principal of The Royal Ballet, now a renowned musical theatre choreographer
- Peter Martins, former Principal of the Royal Danish Ballet and New York City Ballet
- Sir Peter Wright, former Principal dancer and Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet
- Eva Evdokimova, international guest dancer, recognised as a Prima Ballerina Assoluta
- Sir Kenneth MacMillan', artistic director of the Royal Ballet in London between 1970 and 1977
- "VERA VOLKOVA, 71, OF DANISH BALLET (Published 1975)". The New York Times. 1975-05-07. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-04.
- "Vera Volkova". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
- Meinertz, Alexander. Vera Volkova – a biography (Alton: Dance Books 2007); ISBN 978 1852731113.
- Eliza Gaynor Minden (2007). The Ballet Companion: A Dancer's Guide to the Technique, Traditions, and Joys of Ballet. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-416-59571-7.
- Jann Parry (2010). Different Drummer: The Life of Kenneth MacMillan. Faber & Faber. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-571-27451-2.
- Sasha Anawalt (1998). The Joffrey Ballet: Robert Joffrey and the Making of an American Dance Company. University of Chicago Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-226-01755-6.
- Leo Lerman (2009). The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-307-49574-7.
- Britannica Book of the Year 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2010. p. 127. ISBN 978-1-615-35366-8.