Sonia Arova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, on June 20, 1927. After early ballet training with the Opera Ballet in Sofia she went to Paris for advanced study. In Paris her teachers included Olga Preobrajenska and Serge Lifar. During the Second World War she escaped to England, where she joined England's International Ballet in 1942. In the 1950s, she danced leading roles with the Ballet des Champs Elysees, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the London Festival Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. She won fame in 1960s when she danced with Rudolf Nureyev on a number of occasions, including his American debut and his first Royal Ballet "Swan Lake."
She became Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Norway in 1961 and in 1971 she co-directed the San Diego Ballet with her husband Thor Sutowski. In 1976 she became teacher at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. She was also Artistic Director of the Alabama Ballet. In 1996 she returned to San Diego and became artistic advisor to the California Ballet.