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Artistic Director, Principal Dancer,
Martha Graham Dance Company
(Graham Website)
(See Graham Reviews and Photos)

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 6, 2004
Originally Published on

Christine Dakin has been a member of the Graham Company since 1976. Among Graham's roles that she was mentored in and then assumed were Clytemnestra, Medea in Cave of the Heart, and Deep Song. Roles created for her were Phaedra's Dream and The Chosen One in Rite of Spring. Ms. Dakin was partnered by Rudolf Nureyev at the Paris and Berlin Operas and at Lincoln Center, NY. Twyla Tharp and Robert Wilson created dancing and speaking roles for her, and Ms. Dakin was honored with the Dance Magazine Award in 1994 and a Bessie in 2004. Ms. Dakin is a dancer and a founder of Buglisi/Foreman Dance, and she has been a guest artist, teacher, and choreographer in Mexico since 1981. (Program Notes). Christine Dakin is the subject of this inside perspective.

Backstage City Center, after the April 21, 2004 performance, with Christine Dakin in her dressing room. We spoke about her role in "Cave of the Heart" and "Errand into the Maze", her memories of Martha Graham, and her recollections of dancing with Nureyev.

REZ - Tell me about your role in Cave of the Heart.

CD - I remember the moment of Martha (Graham) asking me to learn this role in the 80's. It's a signature role, very dark and powerful. I was thrilled, taken aback by it and there had never been anybody with light hair as Medea. But, I thought, if Martha wants me to do it, then that means I am capable of doing it. Martha told me there's nothing about this role that requires that you actually feel the emotions of the character. It took me a long time to realize what she meant. She meant that since we can't be transported by the real emotions of the dance and still function, it is purely in bringing the choreography, the movement, out of the body that would create the emotion.

Then as the character emerges through movement, you inhabit the role. Medea touches a dark place that most of us have hidden. It's a visceral way to vicariously explore those kinds of feelings. I've done it (role of Medea) in various stages in my life. That much anger, hatred, and jealousy at times felt like an explosion, a frenzy. But, as you grow, you come to feel it's also a dead black hole. It's about how to suck everything down into that quiet, dark place.

REZ - And your role in Errand into the Maze.

CD - The Minotaur (other character) is the personification of many fears. I try to find a balance between the struggle against it and the overcoming each time.

REZ - Tell me about working with Rudolf Nureyev.

CD - He was magic. His passion for life and physicality was voracious. We danced in the Paris Opera and NY State Theater in the mid 80's and became friends. In rehearsals, he was flirtatious with Martha and us, but totally focused. We spoke a bit of Russian together, laughed, and I was arrogant telling him about his responsibility to Martha's work. But, in fact, he worked very hard. He loved the technique and loved dancing her works.

REZ - I'm quite impressed with Christophe Jeannot (Graham Company).

CD - He has a completely innate animal sense of movement, with intelligence in approaching the dramatic line that takes it to a deeper level.

REZ - Where do you perform next?

CD - We'll be in LA and Philadelphia in the fall and then back to City Center next April. (Check Graham Websitefor scheduled performances and tours.)

REZ - Thank you so much.

Christine Dakin, Backstage Dressing Room, City Center
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at