Maestro Miljenko V. BANOVIC
BANOVIC, Miljenko V. renowned ballet artist and choreographer, died on December 24, 2016 in Dunedin, Florida. He was born on October 19, 1936 in Zagreb, Croatia. He was an avid athlete in his teens and started ballet studies when he was 17 years old at the suggestion of his mother. Two years later he left Zagreb to study at the Legat School of Ballet in England. In 1956 he moved to Paris where he lived for 17 years. During his time in France he performed as principal dancer with many notable dance companies such as Roland Petit Company, Ballet des toiles de Paris, Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, Ballet de la Jeunesse and Company, and Paris Opera. His artistic partners included such illustrious prima ballerinas as Janine Charrat, Ludmilla Tcherina, Antoinette Sibley, Yvette Chauvire;, Colette Marchand, Claire Sombert, Claire Motte, and numerous others, both in France and on many tours abroad. In 1962 Miljenko had a starring role in the film The Lovers of Teruel (Les Amants de Teruel), which received an award at the Cannes Film Festival the same year. After appearing as a guest artist in United States with the renowned ballerina Maria Tallchief, he moved to Dallas, Texas in 1970 to serve as an Affiliate Artist for two years. He performed, taught and choreographed for many ballet and opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and in 1973 became the Artistic Director of Denver Civic Ballet in Colorado. He remained in this position for six years as a choreographer and teacher, staging performances for the company. During this time he also directed the dance program at Loretto Heights College in Denver. In 1980 he worked with the New Orleans Ballet as guest choreographer and producer-in-residence and two years later accepted a position as guest teacher and choreographer at Ljubljana Opera and Ballet in Ljubljana, Slovenia. There he met his wife Gaia and together they returned to Denver where he became Director of Ballet Arts Center School and Theater. Miljenko's only child, Christian, who was the light of his life, was born in Denver in 1986. From 1990 to 1997 Miljenko was Artistic Director of Boulder Ballet Ensemble in Boulder, Colorado where he choreographed several new versions of classic ballets including The Nutcracker, Carmen, Petroushka, Firebird, and Romeo and Juliet, to name a few. Before retiring to Dunedin, Florida in 2004, Miljenko appeared with Colorado Ballet in their productions of Don Quixote and Romeo and Juliet, worked with Opera Colorado as a choreographer for several operas, and taught company master classes at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company. Miljenko was a superb artist, known both for his mastery of the technical aspects of the dance and for the expressive interpretations he so splendidly brought to life through his performances and those of his students. He was instrumental in many dancers' lives with his precise coaching and genuine encouragement. Most of all, Miljenko was a generous friend to so many from all walks of life all over the world, a charming raconteur of his amazing adventures, and was always a loving son, father, husband, and brother. His delightful wit, sparkle in his eye, love for all animals, zest for life, and luminous grace will be genuinely missed and affectionately remembered. A memorial service for Miljenko will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm at the Church of the Ascension, 701 Orange Avenue in Clearwater, Florida. He will be laid to rest in Zagreb, Croatia. Miljenko is survived by his son, Christian; Christian's mother, Gaia; his brother, Branimir; nephew, Aleksandar and family; niece, Miljenka and family; his relatives in Croatia and Slovenia, and many dear friends the world over.
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