Born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, Mea Venema started ballet at the age of 8 at the Kennemer Ballet Studio in Haarlem. Her professional dance career began at the age of 17 with Netherlands Dans Theatre. At the time directed by Benjamin Harkarvy and Hans van Manen with whom she worked with in many of their choreographies, for example Harkavy's “Recital”, “Grand Pas Espagnol” and from van Manen “Metaforen”, “Grosse Fuge”, “Septet Extra” and (later with the Dutch National Ballet) “Dumbarton Oaks”, “5 Tangos”, “Four Schumann Pieces” and “Grand Trio”.
Other choreographers she worked with at Netherlands Dans Theatre include:
John Butler “Carmina Burana”, “After Eden”; Louis Falco “Eclipse”; Jiri Kilian “Stoolgame”, “Cathedrale Englouti”; Jennifer Muller “Strangers”; Jerome Robbins “Moves”; Job Sanders “Screenplay”; Glen Tetley “Mythical Hunters”, “Ricercare”.
In 1971/72 Mea Venema danced with the Geneva Ballet Company Switzerland), directed by Alfonso Cata. Here she danced in many ballets by George Balanchine and also worked with him personally.
Also during this period, she worked with Anthony Tudor (“Lilac Garden”) and Todd Bollender (“Still Point”).
In 1975, after another period with Netherlands Dans Theatre, Mea Venema joined the Dutch National Ballet, artistic director Rudi van Dantzig. Important roles here: “Giselle” in Sir Peter Wright´s production and Juliet in
Rudi van Dantzig´s “Romeo and Juliet”. She also worked with Kurt Jooss (“Green Table”, “Big City”) and danced with Rudolf Nureyev.
With all three companies she frequently toured, world-wide.
In 1982, after working with Hans van Manen for over 20 years, (having danced 23 of his ballets of which most were created on her), Mea Venema started teaching his choreographies and in 1984 became his assistant.
She teaches his works all over the world and is a board member of the Hans van Manen Foundation.
In 2005, Mea Venema was honoured with the Achievement Award from
the Dutch Foundation: Stichting Dansersfonds ´79.