by Leann Lo, MFA-1 student in CalArts’ Creative Writing Program
Mia Slavenska, a prima ballerina who emigrated to the U.S. during World War II, was one of a small group of dancers who changed the face of American dance by introducing ballet as an art form to the American public. Slavenska, who taught at CalArts from 1970-83, died in 2002, thinking the world had forgotten her and her contributions to dance; but Slavenska’s daughter, Maria Ramas, promised to tell her mother’s story.
Fulfilling this promise led Ramas on a journey through “historical memory, national identity, and the power of art.” The culmination of this journey is the Emmy-winning documentary, Mia, A Dancer’s Journey, and the CalArts Library and The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance are proud to screen the film and celebrate the career of a world-renowned ballerina at CalArts on May 3.
Current faculty member and Slavenska’s former student, Glenn Eddy, remembers his time in Slavenska’s classroom vividly. “Mia provided the consistency. Her class was the laboratory where we tested ourselves every day against impossible standards in an encouraging and generous atmosphere,” Eddy said in an email. He described Slavenska as the bedrock of the early CalArts dance program. “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.”
The screening of Mia, A Dancer’s Journey will take place at CalArts’ Bijou Auditorium on May 3 at 1:30 pm. The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with the film’s producers—Slavenska’s daughter Ramas and Kate Johnson. From 3:30-5 pm, a reception with the filmmakers will be held in the CalArts Library, where an exhibition of photos and documents celebrating Slavenska is on view through August.
Above: Trailer for ‘Mia, A Dancer’s Journey.’
Mia, a Dancer’s Journey
May 3, 1:30 pm
Bijou Auditorium, CalArts
24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia