Maya Deren (April 29, 1917, Kiev – October 13, 1961, New York City), born Eleanora Derenkowsky, was an American avant-garde filmmaker and film theorist of the 1940s and 1950s. Deren was also a choreographer, dancer, poet, writer and photographer.
Deren was born in Kiev, Ukraine to Solomon Derenkowsky and Marie Fiedler. It is said that she was named after Eleanora Duse, an Italian actress. In 1922 the family moved to Syracuse, New York. Her father shortened the family name to "Deren" shortly after they arrived in New York. He became the staff psychiatrist at the State Institute for the Feeble-Minded in Syracuse. In 1928, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Her mother moved to Paris to be with her daughter while she attended the League of Nations School in Geneva, Switzerland from 1930 to 1933.
Deren began college at Syracuse University, where she became active in the Trotskyist Young People's Socialist League. Through the YPSL she met Gregory Bardacke, whom she later married at the age of eighteen. After his graduation in 1935, she moved to New York City. She and her husband became active in various socialist causes in New York City. She graduated from New York