Mea Venema was born in Haarlem, the Netherlands and began studying ballet at the age of 8 at the Kennemer Ballet Studio in Haarlem. Mrs. Venema started her professional dance career at the age of 17 with Netherlands Dance Theatre, which, at the time, was directed by Benjamin Harkarvy and Hans van Manen. Mrs. Venema worked with Harkavy in Recital, Grand Pas and van Manen's Metaforen, Gross Fuge, Septet Extra and (later with the Dutch National Ballet) Dumbarten Oaks, 5 Tango's, Four Schumann Pieces and Grand Trio.
While at the Netherlands Dans Theatre, Ms. Venema also worked with choreographers, John Butler, Jiri Killian, Jerome Robbins and Glen Tetley. In 1971, Ms. Venema danced with the Geneva Ballet Company and it was here where she worked with and danced ballets by George Balanchine. During this period, Mrs. Venema also worked with Sir Antony Tudor in Lilac Garden and Tod Bollender in Still Point.
In 1982, after working with Hans van Manen for over 20 years (having danced 23 of his ballets with most created on her), Mrs. Venema began teaching his choreographies and in 1984 became his assistant. Mrs. Venema now teaches van Manen's works all over the world and is a board member of the Hans van Manen Foundation.