Celebrating Mia Slavenska – Croatian American Trailblazing Ballerina

Mia Slavenska A celebrated  Croatian American ballerina

Mia Slavenska
A celebrated
Croatian American ballerina


California was quite abuzz last week with the premiere of an exciting new documentary film “Mia, a dancer’s journey” last week – featuring one of the most celebrated America’s ballerinas of the 20th Century and a pioneer of American ballet – Mia Slavenska; the Croatian born Mia Corak from the Eastern Croatia city of Slavonski Brod. This is the first time a film like this about a Croatian American has been distributed nationally on Public Television as it spreads from February 2015 through PBS channels across the nation (USA). For future updates on broadcast dates in cities across the USA, please visit  http://www.pbssocal.org/tv/nationalproductions/mia/ . The film is also to have a film festival premiere at the Lincoln Center in New York in January 2015.

One of the film’s producers is the Emmy® award winner Brenda Brkusic (also the Executive Producer of Program Development and National Productions for PBS SoCaL), an American Croat who made her documentary film debut several years ago with “Freedom From Despair” (links to which are on the left hand side column of this blog website) – featuring the oppression of Tito’s communist Yugoslavia and the perilous escape from it to the Western world of freedom and democracy.

Brenda Brkusic Photo: PBS SoCal Photostream

Brenda Brkusic
Photo: PBS SoCal Photostream

On November 16, 2014, the Croatian American Women’s Club hosted a preview screening of “Mia, a dancer’s journey” at St. Anthony’s Croatian Catholic Church Parish Center in Los Angeles. The screening was held in association with PBS SoCaL, the national presenting station for the film.
The people who attended this screening included the famous dancer Ana Trebunskaya, from the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars”, numerous writers from the Los Angeles area press as well as a PBS SoCaL camera crew and photographer. Also in attendance: Maria Ramas, the film’s writer, director and producer, Kate Johnson, the film’s director and producer and Brenda Brkusic.

Left: Kate Johnson Right: Maria Ramas Photo: PBS SoCal Photostream

Left: Kate Johnson
Right: Maria Ramas
Photo: PBS SoCal Photostream

Link to short video from St Anthony’s Croatian Catholic Church Parish Center in Los Angeles.

“Mia, a dancer’s journey” is voiced by Emmy® award-winning actress Blythe Danner and features a narrative of a daughter telling the story of her mother’s odyssey as an expatriated artist pioneering her craft in America.
Mia Slavenska was quite an extraordinary artist who lived a dramatic and inspiring life,” said Blythe Danner. “It was an honor to represent her voice in this moving documentary.”
Mia was one of a small band of famous European émigré ballerinas who changed the face of American culture by introducing audiences across the country to ballet as an art form. Without Mia and her émigré colleagues, choreographer George Balanchine’s American revolution in ballet would never have made it past the borders of New York City. Mia was a modernist, one of the few ballerinas to form her own company. She moved freely between modern and ballet idioms. In 1952, she convinced Tennessee Williams to allow her ballet company to produce a ballet version of A Streetcar Named Desire. It was the first time a modern play was turned into a ballet. With her portrayal of Blanche Dubois, Mia Slavenska became a truly American artist.
At the end of her life, Slavenska was haunted by the fear of obscurity and spent over twenty years of her life writing and rewriting her memoirs. When Slavenska died in 2002, her memoirs remained unpublished and she believed that she had been completely forgotten, not only in the United States but also in her native land of Croatia. Before Slavenska died, Maria promised that she would tell her mother’s story. This film is the keeping of that promise. As Maria retraces her mother’s life journey, she unearths the story of a maverick ballerina and a lost time in American dance. And, Maria makes a most surprising discovery: Mia Slavenska hasn’t been forgotten after all.”

Mia Slavenska  in her advanced years of life

Mia Slavenska
in her advanced years of life

Indeed, she has not been forgotten and the documentary “Mia, a dancer’s journey” promises to thrill us with beauty, dedication, determination and the amazing difference to life a woman can make. Enjoy the trailer that follows here below. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/99204356″>Mia, A Dancer’s Journey 30s Promo -</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user19556872″>StudioHyphen</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>




  1. Mia Slavenska – a great lady!

  2. Reblogged this on Rogues & Vagabonds.

  3. Oh, how exciting. I will have to see this when it comes out. Happy Thanksgiving. Hugs, Barbara

  4. Reblogged this on IdealisticRebel's Daily View of Favorites.

  5. Zoran Nosic says:

    Ina, I am always delighted to hear about the lives of Croats in the Diaspora that have made a difference in the lives of others. Thank you very much for providing this story and the resource to really appreciate her work. Zivila!

  6. What a well deserved appreciation, thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. Thank you for visiting ! 🙂

  8. This is a movie I want to see. I have always loved the ballet and Mia Slavenska sounds like an incredible person. 🙂

    • I can’t wait to see it also, Carol – it’s bound to captivate and keep hold of one with warm feelings for a long time, a sense of pride and achievement gets to be something we all need an extra “shot” of from time to time …

  9. This is the first time I have heard of this amazing lady.. And the film of her life sounds to be a wonderful film to watch out for..
    Many thanks for sharing.. Wishing you a peaceful weekend Ina..

  10. I was a little bit depressed by your latest post so I am glad I came to look at this positive celebratory post.

    • I know, Gallivanta, one hopes that the negatives preoccupying the space of hard won freedom will disperse as people stay strong, bit by bit, and, oh, it’s so good to find such treasures as Mia 🙂

  11. A amazing story and woman. Thank you for sharing her story.

  12. Sounds a fascinating film. I hope it’s released in the UK sometime.

  13. Thank you Boka Cro Press!


  1. […] The film brings to life Slavenska’s odyssey as an expatriated artist pioneering her craft. And I wrote about this great film and about Mia Slavenska in November last year and, of course, it was a double dose of “Croatian delight” and pride that came with Brenda […]

  2. […] The film brings to life Slavenska’s odyssey as an expatriated artist pioneering her craft. And I wrote about this great film and about Mia Slavenska in November last year and, of course, it was a double dose of “Croatian delight” and pride that came with Brenda […]

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