About Me

San Francisco. Seattle. Zagreb.

My path to now.  

Born

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1994.

University

Received my B.F.A. in dance from UC Irvine in 2014.

Moved

Moved to Zagreb, Croatia in May 2018.

It all started in California

with my two awesome parents

Since I was 11 years old I spent most of my time in the ballet studio. Summers were wasted away perfecting steps, movement, art. Something I will never regret, because it has made me who I am: hard-working, persistent, and full of life. After training rigorously with Maria Vegh (Harkness Ballet), and at various elite summer programs, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre New York, Kirov Academy, and Salzburg Ballet,  I decided to go to University of California, Irvine and get a Bachelor of Fine Arts at age 16. 

At University I focused on performing and perfecting ballet technique, modern technique (Horton, Graham, Cunningham),  jazz technique (Giordano, Matt Mattox, among others), and character dances around the world. I studied choreography under Jodie Gates and improvisation with Lisa Naugle. 

Moving on

into the real world

For three years in Seattle I danced for International Ballet Theatre. In Seattle, I performed various classical works, Giselle, Dracula, Les Sylphides, Don Quixote, excerpts from Swan Lake, as well as contemporary choreography by Mark Haim and Francois Serre y Berge. While in Seattle I also had the opportunity to perform in various festivals with choreography by Eva Stone (CHOP SHOP), Emilee Putsche (Seattle International Dance Festival), Jennifer Porter, and Mark Haim (Dance Open St. Petersburg).

After graduation, I received a contract at Mystic Ballet 2, where I dance for one year in Sergei Vanaev’s Carmina Burana, Nottobe (Hamlet), Nutcracker and Ashton’s Cinderella. After one year I decided to move to Seattle. 

Choreography

staying inspired

By 24 years old, I decided it was time for a change. It had been 7 years of longing to return to Europe, and the trip to St. Petersburg with International Ballet Theatre made me try even harder. After performing Giselle, a classical ballet that I had been dying to perform (literally, I danced with bronchitis and a double ear infection), I decided it was time to think. 

While performing I spent a lot of time choreographing and working on improvisation, presenting four new short works during my time dancing in Seattle: “Savage”, “The Scream”, “When everything is taken, I will sing”, and “Skala”.  

I sat on the dressing room floor with a mound of paper and began planning. Thinking of all of the pros and cons of moving began with a lot of fear.

Yes, Tanya, you will. 

Yes, Tanya, you will. 

But eventually something pushed me to go. I don’t know if it was the disgusting smell of marijuana that was a month old mixed with vomit in a Seattle bus, or the daily issue of spending two hours on the bus to commute to and from work, or perhaps the old childish love that I had for Zagreb reminding me that life could be better “back home”. It was a combination of things that made me choose to start this new adventure. 

It was really hard saying goodbye. Friends that I may never see again, mentors and directors of the ballet that inspired me so much. Life is easier now with Facebook and Instagram, where we can call keep in touch 24/7. But the hardest part was hugging my parents goodbye. Knowing that life would never be the same, ever. 

Moving to Croatia was a rollercoaster. I will talk more about that later in my blog but it was definitely a lot harder than I expected. Translating diplomas, driver’s licenses, health insurance, all without a job! 

it was time.

Finding a job...

I got hired at GDi in Zagreb to work as a Graphic Designer. 6 months later I was already promoted to the Lead Designer and Team Lead with a full time position. 

I was lucky, I started my time in Croatia by taking class every single day at Kazališta Komedija with the Ballet Ensemble. It got me on the right foot when I moved. But as my mom says, it was time to look for a “big girl” job. And that is what I finally did. 

In January, the tables turned again, I received a contract for Jesus Christ Superstar in Kazalište Komedija, choreography by Leo Mujić. I took it. 

The best part about my life, is that I like to take every curve ball that is thrown at me. I love to say yes, I love to just do it, I love to YOLO. I am a millennial and I am from California. And because of all of that, I never want to be bored. I love to learn, grow, and constantly teach myself something new. So when I got the performance, the little bit inside of me that always wanted to dance and didn’t want to join that corporate world came back. And here I am with the daily struggle of having two jobs, family around the world, and as every millennial struggling between what I want and what is right. 

I get asked on a daily basis why I moved to Croatia, and I always have a different answer. There are just so many reasons I love it here and some reasons that I cannot explain at all. Every day there is a new reason and a new thing to fall in love with. But a life away from your family, whatever the reason was that you left: better opportunity, money, safety, etc., is not an easy life. I spend my mornings or evenings on FaceTime saying hi to my parents and catching up with what is going on. We always said in my family that you are only a plane flight away, but you know, when someone is in the hospital, that plane flight is not fast enough and you cannot just always be there. There are a lot of sacrifices to moving and there are a lot of benefits. Luckily for me, Croatia is home for my family too, so I know that they will always come and visit.