Vija Vētra

“Never grow up, then you have no time to get old”

Vija Vētra, born in Latvia, February 6th, 1923 (Two By Two Client #10, 2024)

Born in Riga, Latvia, Vētra is an acclaimed classical and contemporary dancer, choreographer and performer of Latvian traditional dance. Vija Vētra is also an Indian classical dancer and a path-breaking creator of the movement of sacred devotional dance in Latvia. During her artistic journey,  Vija Vētra has performed on stages of four continents and countless cities. A patriot of Latvia, she carried the name of her country even when the country was behind the Iron Curtain.

For Vija, dance is her life and single focus. Sacrificing family life, she devoted her life to the pursuit of art. During World War II, she studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts and the Vienna Conservatory Ballet chapter. However, she had to escape as a war refugee to Germany. In 1948, she immigrated to Australia and 1951, opened a dance studio in Sydney. Destiny had other plans for this young artist. While performing in Australia in the 1950s, Vija Vētra was cast as an Indian princess in a musical for the Sydney opera—this was a turning point in her life and the beginning of a life- long passion.

In 1967, she opened a dance study in New York City. While she continued to perform ballet, she focused on promoting and performing Indian classical dances.

In the 1960s, Vija Vētra returned to Europe to perform as a professional dancer and to teach young students. Since 1990, with support from the Latvian Culture Foundation, she has been visiting and performing in her country of birth, giving concerts and inspiring several generations of Latvian dancers.

Vija Vētra has received several high awards and recognition from the leadership of the Republic of Latvia. In 1999 she was awarded the highest civil award of the country – the Three Stars Order, and in 2018 – the Cabinet of Ministers prize for distinguished contribution to the nation’s development. From 1966 to 1975, she appeared in fourteen episodes of the popular American television series- Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

In 1993, she founded the Unitarian Universalist Church in Riga, Latvia. She has been the subject of documentaries: Vijaya (2004) a documentary film by Ināra Kolmane, and The World of Vija Vētra (2005), directed by Aleksandr Kostic.

Vija Vētra lives in New York, City as a senior citizen in an artist residence in Manhattan on the shore of the Hudson River. She considers her decades of service to the arts her greatest joy.

Margot Magazine, Issue 8
Summer 2024