Born in Omis, near Split, Croatia, Herci Munitic began dancing at age five with the Children’s Theater of Split, Croatia. She made her debut at thirteen with the National Theater in Split. Throughout her years of training, she has such notable mentors as Mila Katic, Ana Roje, Oskar Harmoš, and Mia Slavenska. In 1958, Ms. Marsden immigrated to the United States to live in Lincoln, Rhode Island where she co-founded the Brae Crest School of Ballet.
As Prima Ballerina, Herci Marsden made her American debut in 1960 with The State Ballet of Rhode Island - the repertory company she was instrumental in establishing. While balancing her active careers with The Brae Crest School and The State Ballet, Ms. Marsden was a leading dancer at the New YorkWorld’s Fair and Eastern States Exposition and the St. Louis Municipal Opera. She performed the leading role in Destiny at the First Performing Arts Festival with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra in 1967. She also danced in Faust, Aida, and Carmen with the Providence Opera Theater, and danced with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra in the production of Carmina Burana. By invitation of the Yugoslavian government, the Marsdens led the 57 members of The State Ballet of Rhode Island to tour Croatia in 1970.
Ms. Marsden has been an integral part of SBRI since its inception, not only as Prima Ballerina but also notably as a choreographer, and since 1976, as Artistic Director. Edwin Safford, the long-time critic for The Providence Journal, described her versatility: “As choreographer, and Artistic Director, too, she displayed an undeniable authority over the company.”
Best known as a dancer, the leading roles for which Herci Marsden are most celebrated are Giselle (Giselle) - of which her interpretation has been termed “A perfectly splendid ‘Giselle’” by Bradford Swan, and “Her ‘Giselle’ had heart and soul” by Charles Leach in The Pawtucket Times, as well as Swanhilda (Coppelia) of which “Herci Marsden’s portrayal of the role (is) saucy, knowingly comedic and as complete a characterization as you will find”, critiques Edwin Safford as well as Charles Leach who viewed “Herci’s ‘Swanhilda’...a living portrait...her dancing was immaculate.” Among some of her other memorable roles are Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Ivana and Snake in which Ms. Marsden played dual roles (Stranac), Taglioni (Pas de Quatre), Baba Jaga (Pictures at an Exhibition), Princess Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella (Cinderella), Ophelia (Hamlet), and the Dragon Fly (Dragon Fly/Pavlova).
In 1966, Herci & Myles Marsden introduced classical ballet at The University of Rhode Island, College of Human Science & Services, and Department of Physical Education Health & Recreation. URI was the first university in Rhode Island to introduce classical ballet into its program as a credited course, and Ms. Marsden instructed there for nearly 30 years. More of Ms. Marsden’s recent accomplishments are: in the spring of 1990, Ms. Marsden was commissioned to choreograph the World Premiere Fairy Tale Ballet, Phantomgreen, written and composed by Margaret Buechner, a composer from Michigan; in April of 1991; Ms. Marsden was a panelist at URI’s ‘Women in Leadership in the 1990’s; Ms. Marsden’s biographical sketch has been written in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in Entertainment, and Who’s Who of American Women, for individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their field of endeavor and who have contributed significantly to the betterment of contemporary society; she was awarded the 1998 Commemorative Medal in recognition of her selection as Woman of the Year for outstanding community and professional achievement from The American Biographical Institute; she was the recipient of the 2008 Encore Award from the Arts & Business Council of RI’s ‘Individual Achievement Award for the Performing Arts’; she received Motif Magazine’s ‘2010 Artistic Vision Award’ for her half-century of artistic excellence and growth of the Arts in Rhode Island; also in 2010, Capezio® awarded her Brae Crest School with the prestige and $5000 in scholarship money as the first recipient of Capezio’s Studio Connect Award - Scholarship Division. Brae Crest was the only school chosen, nationwide, for their generosity and excellence in ballet training for its community; Ms. Marsden was highlighted in Dance Studio Life Magazine, August 2011 Edition, as Teacher in the Spotlight; September 2, 2013 Ms. Marsden accepted her “Salute to Seniors” citation from Senior Digest and Bankers Life & Casualty Company in recognition of her accomplishments with Brae Crest School and SBRI, and for inspiring people of all ages to strive to reach their goals. Over the 56 years, many of Ms. Marsden’s students and company dancers have become prominent figures among the world of dance in the state of Rhode Island, as well as nationally and internationally.
Ms. Marsden continues as Artistic Director and Choreographer for The State Ballet of Rhode Island as well as her Brae Crest School of Classical Ballet and is the proud mother of four grown children, Ana, Richard, Mark, and Dujko, and four grandchildren, Shana, Brandan, Ashley, Ayden, and great-grandchild Anika.