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Eleanora Derenkowsky (Maya Deren)

Born: 1917 AD
Died: 1961 AD, at 44 years of age.

Nationality: Ukrainian
Categories: Choreographers, Dancers, Entertainers, Poets, Writers


1917 - Maya Deren, born on the 29th of April in Kiev, Ukraine, Russia. She was also a choreographer, dancer, poet, writer and photographer.

1922 - She came to the USA as Eleanora Derenkowsky. Together with her father, a psychiatrist, and her mother, an artist, she fled the pogroms against Russian Jews.

1936 - She studied journalism and political science in at Syracuse University in New York, finishing her BA at NYU in June.

1939 - Received her MA in English literature from Smith.

1943 - She made her first film with Alexander Hammid, called Meshes of the Afternoon. Through this association she changed her name, at Hammid's suggestion, to Maya, meaning "illusion."

1944 - She made six short films and several incomplete films, including one with Marcel Duchamp titled Witch's Cradle.

1946 - She is the author of two books, "An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form, and Film" (reprinted in "The Legend of Maya Deren," vol 1, part 2).

1947 - Became the first filmmaker to receive a Guggenheim grant for creative work in motion pictures. She wrote film theory, distributed her own films, traveled across the USA, and went to Cuba and Canada to promote her films using the lecture-demonstration format to teach film theory, and Voudoun and the interrelationship of magic, science, and religion.

1950 - Established the Creative Film Foundation to reward the achievements of independent filmmakers.

1961 - Died, at the age of 44, from a brain hemorrhage brought on by extreme malnutrition, on the 13th of October.


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