Smiljana Mandukic’s Days


Concept: Sanja Krsmanovic Tasic

Project “Smiljana Mandukic’s Days” is created as a multi-year project and Manifestation that wants to revive the continuity, roots and tradition of contemporary art dance in Serbia through research, archiving, theoretical works and art production, empowering new generations of dancers and choreographers of contemporary dance in the process, and giving the deserved place to the intangible cultural heritage of this, sometimes forgotten and ephemeral art form.

Photo: Lidija Antonović

We would like to research the life and work of Smiljana Mandukic, choreographer and one of the pioneers of contemporary dance in Yugoslavia, and the Balkan region, with a goal to make her legacy visible, through art production and other art and documentary multimedia contents. We want to remind, in a deserving way, of the importance and influence of work of this contemporary dancer, choreographer and pedagogue who , despite all the obstacles, persisted in her mission of creating and popularization of contemporary dance in our country and region.

Association of the Ballet Artists of Serbia is awarding the “Smiljana Mandukic” prize since the year 2012.

The award “Smiljana Mandukic” is established as a sign of respect and remembering of Smiljana Mandukic, the famous artist, who permanently indebted art dance in Serbia with her interpretation, choreographer and pedagogical work and research in the field of contemporary dance. The award has been given to the chosen dancer from the professional theatres, troupes and or any of the independent artists for the best dance interpretation in the field of contemporary art dance, but it can be given to a group of dancers or to a whole ensemble of one play, as well.” (taken from the explanation about the award)

The event and project „Smiljana Mandukić Days“ is important for everyone from the performance art community. On the first place, this project is needed for the education of younger generations informing them about the life and work of this important choreographer. Furthermore, this project is important for its goal in archiving, digitalization, and preservation a significant part of the tradition and history of Serbian contemporary dance. Finally, it is essential for the visibility and support to current and future Serbian artists, dancers and choreographers from the contemporary dance field.

The project is dedicated to the remembrance of Smiljana Mandukic`s life and work, her role and relevance for establishing the modern dance in our country, reconsideration and critical reflection on the place and situation of contemporary dance, dancers and independent artists in Serbia, in the 20 th and 21 st century, then and now. We recall that Belgrade organization Musical youth organized in the eighties concerts of Belgrade Contemporary Dance of Smiljana Mandukic, beside concerts of classical music and ballet. The Belgrade high school students was obliged to attend this events as a way of sensitization and encounter of contemporary dance.

She spent her life at the Municipality Stari Grad. In the last decades of her life she lived in the small flat at the Nikola Pašić Square. There is, also a plaque dedicated to her on the wall of the building she lived in. She educated many significant artist in the contemporary dance and performance art field.


The first edition of the „Smiljana Mandukić Days“ was a four day event celebrating her life, work, and marking the 25th anniversary of Smiljana Mandukić’s (1908-1992) death. The program was held on 4th , 16th, 17th and 18th of June in various venues and spaces where she herself worked in during her long and fruitful career: National Theatre in Belgrade, Art pavilion “Cvijeta Zuzorić“, The Ilija M. Kolarac Foundation, Cultural Centre Parobrod, and Municipality Stari Grad.

The programme consisted of a performance, choreographies, artistic evenings, a Symposium, round tables, screenings of archived materials, videos, interviews, and Smiljana Mandukic`s choreographies.

The opening ceremony „Smiljane Mandukić Days“ as a part of the Festival of Choreographic Miniatures started at 20.00 on 4th of June 2017 at National Theatre in Beolgrade, at the Scene ” Raša Plaovic”. The opening event was the theatre dance peace „Smiljana Mandukić – an essay in movement “ with over thirty actors and dancers. The concept, direction and dramaturgy was by Sanja Krsmanović Tasić (Hleb Teatar), who is the initiator of the project „Smiljana Mandukić Days“.

The “essay in movement“ included as footnotes-choreographies of Smiljana Mandukić`s students: Katarina Stojkov Slijepčević, Nele Antonović, Svetlana Đurović i Olivere Stanojević Mitrović and also Isidora Stanišić, Edvard Klug, Guy Weizman i Roni Haver. Dancers who are winners of the Smiljane Mandukić Award: Ana Ignjatović Zagorac, Milica Pisić, Nikola Tomašević, Ivana Savić, and Dejan Kolarov participated in the program. The archive video of Smiljane Mandukić choreography „Ćele kula“ will be part of the programme.

Our guest performer, the German actor Udo Wiegand, played the roles of Rudolf von Laban and the father of Smiljana Mandukić. The role of young Smiljana was performed by dancer and actress Jovana Mihić. Beside the opening ceremony and performance, the event included talks about book „Body Language“ of Ms Mandukić, premier of the dance performance “Scrape” choreographed by Jovana Rakić, the screenings of TV films about her life and work, and Symposium with the presentations of scientific papers on contemporary dance „CONTEMPORARY DANCE THEN AND NOW“ and round tables. This part of the program was held on the 16th, 17th and 18 th of June 2017 in The Ilija M. Kolarac Foundation, Cultural Centre Parobrod, Art Pavilion “Cvijeta Zuzorić” and the Minicipality of Stari Grad. The members of the programme board are Milica Zajcev, Dubravka Maletić i Katarina Stojkov Slijepčević.

This project of the Association Artictic Utopia is supported by Ministry of Culture and Information. The project partners are the Association of Ballet Artists of Serbia, National Theatre, The Ilija M. Kolarac Foundation, Institute for Artistic Dance, Mimart Theatre, Municipality Stari Grad, Cultural Centre Parobrod, Art Pavilion “Cvjeta Zuzorić” , the Studio „Perpetuum dance” and many others.

The second year of the project is planned in June and October 2018.

The second year of project is continuing on the first, with a focus on intergenerational meeting of young dancers, pupils of High School of Ballet “Lujo Davicho”, Institute for Art Dance, and young proffesionals from the independent scene with the oldest dancers – pupils of Smiljana Mandukic, and also their practical introduction with the methodology and choreographies of this great artist. With this project we try to mark a year of cultural heritage, which has been marked all over the Europe, through immaterial cultural heritage which Smiljana Mandukic, Maga Magazinovic, so as their pupils and followers gave to us. We are proud to know them and aware of the trace they left on our individual development and work, so as on a entirely art scene of Serbia.

Ms Mandukic was and will always be an example for many dancers who cooperate with her, indicating on importance of personal initiative and consistency to their own art expression.