This simply spectacular photo memorializes a tremendous dancer of the twentieth century, the great Croatia-born prima ballerina Mia Slavenska. The rock solid legs, the startling physical intensity, the blazing eyes, all Slavenska.
Following her career with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Slavenska’s long and winding road led, in the 1970s, to teaching classical ballet at the California Institute of the Arts. The CalArts Library and Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance will soon honor Slavenska’s legacy with a special screening of the Emmy-winning documentary, Mia, A Dancer’s Journey. The biographical film directed by Slavenska’s daughter Maria Ramas is must viewing for those of us unlucky enough to have never experienced La Slavenska in person.
Glen Eddy, faculty member in the Institute’s Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, studied with Slavenska and remembers her fondly:
Her class was the laboratory where we tested ourselves every day against impossible standards in an encouraging and generous atmosphere, She was the rare teacher who could be utterly intimidating, a living legend, representing and embodying the highest achievements of the art form, but stand side by side in solidarity with her students, supporting us unstintingly in our struggles, with humor, compassion, and love.
An exhibition of rare photographs and documents relating to Slavenska will be on display in the CalArts Library through August 31.
photo credit: Mia Slavenska in A Streetcar Named Desire and Arabian Nights from the CalArts Special Collection and Institute Archives
Mia, A Dancer’s Journey | Bijou Theater at CalArts | May 3, 1:30 pm