Mia Slavenska, one of the leading ballerinas of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and a respected West Coast teacher, died in Westwood, California, on October 5, 2002. She was 86.
Born in Croatia, Slavenska was a child prodigy who became prima ballerina of the Yugoslav National Opera at 18. In 1936 she was awarded first prize at the Dance Olympics in Berlin, and the following year starred in the motion picture La Mort du cygne (released in 1938 as Ballerina in the U.S.). In '38 she joined the Ballet Russe, with which she remained associated intermittently until the mid-1950s. Glamorous, with a virtuoso technique that few could match, she danced all the major ballerina roles.
"Technically she is nothing short of superb," wrote The New York Times critic John Martin in 1948. Her Giselle was "a revelation," "a miracle of legato, of aplomb, of sustained dynamism."
She formed a number of touring groups, including, from 1952 to 1955, the Slavenska-Franklin Ballet. A Streetcar Named Desire, which Valerie Bettis choreographed for the company in 1952, brought Slavenska great personal success. The role of Blanche DuBois was meaty, dramatic, and allowed her to marry modern and ballet.
In the 1960s Slavenska opened a studio in New York that attracted many modern and postmodern dancers. She taught at the University of California at Los Angeles and at California Institute of the Arts. Among her students were Yoko Ichino and the modern dance choreographer Donald Byrd.
In 1946 Slavenska married Kurt Neumann, a political scientist, who died in 1983. She is survived by her daughter, Maria Ramas, of Culver City, California.
A memorial service for Slavenska will be held 4-7 P.M. February 22 in the Faculty Center at the University of California-Los Angeles, at 480 Charles Young Drive. Call 310/206-1556 for more information.
Allan Harris, chief executive officer of Leo's Dancewear, passed away on September 22, 2002. He was 68.
An integral part of the Leo's organization for more than thirty-five years, he was well known throughout the dance industry and will be remembered for his integrity and devotion to the ongoing improvement of Leo's products and services. Harris, his brother, Ed, and brother-in-law, Harvey "Buddy" Baruck, worked together as a team to continue the traditions established by Leo Harris in 1924 and to help pave the way for a third generation of leadership. Harris was involved in all facets of the business, developing close relationships with both employees and customers. He balanced his work life with a strong focus on his family and a love of music, art, sports, and travel.
Harris's guidance, knowledge, and sense of humor will be missed. Leo's 2003 Costume Catalogue is dedicated to his memory.--Courtesy Leo's Dancewear
Poet, lyricist, and tap dancer Jackie Raven died peacefully at home on Monday, August 19, 2002, of breast cancer. She was 51. A primary force in the tap dance revival of the 1970s and '80s, she promoted Albert Gibson of the Three Chocolateers, brought back to the public eye George Hillman, of Black and Blue, and Ralph Brown, once a headliner with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band. She was an original member of Brenda Bufalino's American Tap Dance Orchestra. With Neil Applebaum, she co-founded NYC Tapworks, touring Europe, the U.S., and Japan before moving to Long Island in 1988.
Seventeen tunes with her lyrics have been published and recorded. Oberon Foundation, an arts-presenting organization, will publish a book of her poems next year. She was fluent in Japanese and held a masters degree in linguistics from SUNY Stony Brook.
Raven taught tap at the Stroud School of Dance and was teaching tap dance history and technique at SUNY Stony Brook when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1999. She is survived by her husband of twenty-two years, the trombonist Ray Anderson; her daughter, Anabel, 12; and her son, Raven, 16.
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|Date:||Feb 1, 2003|
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