BWW Interview: Christine Dakin and Her Recent Dance Projects
Broadwayworld.com caught up with Christine Dakin to learn about some of her recent performances, collaborations, and works in progress. Christine's true passion for her art and her desire to bring exciting projects to the world of dance is truly inspirational.
Christine Dakin was principal dancer and Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Dance Company with Terese Capucilli. Recently creating work for her are Alejandro Chávez, Brice Mousset and Jaime Blanc whose work "Short Story" she premiered at the 92Y Cinco de Mayo Festival 2017. She is honored to have received a "Bessie"(2003), the Dance Magazine Award (1994), and a Fellowship from Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2008). Her teaching and choreography has been supported by a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, Rockefeller US Mexico Fund for Culture grants, FONCA, the USIA and CEC ArtsLink. She is associate founder of Buglisi Dance Theatre, taught for a decade at The Juilliard School, and was Visiting Lecturer at Harvard. Dakin's film La Voz del Cuerpo / The Body Speaks, created with dancers and musicians from Mexico and the United States, was the official selection of the 2013 New York Independent Film Festival, NEWFILMMAKERS NY and Golden Door International Film Festival. She teaches at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, the Ailey School, and has been guest teacher for the Ailey Company and Creative Advisor in the New Directions Choreography Lab of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Foundation.
Dakin performed at The Cinco de Mayo Festival of Mexican Choreographers that was held at the 92nd Street Y from May 5th to May 7th of this year. Curated by Catherine Tharin, Dakin relished the opportunity to work with the talented choreographers that she has known for more than two decades. Invited were choreographers Alejandro Chávez (Ciudad Interior), Adriana León / Alejandro Vera (Univerdanza) Claudia Rodríguez/Francisco Olmedo (Ángel en Espejo) and Jaime Blanc.
At the festival, Dakin danced "Short Story", choreographed for her by Jaime Blanc with music by Luciano Berio, and costuming by Henry Van Kuiken. It was inspired by Tennessee Williams' short story "Lady of Larkspur Lotion." Dakin also performed "Short Story" in Mexico at the Teatro Juarez in Guanajuato on June 23, featured as a guest artist in Alejandro Chávez's company, Ciudad Interior.
Later in May, Dakin presented "A Moment of Dance," three Dance collaborations with a team of talented artists and musicians, at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre on May 26th and 27th of this year. "A Moment in Dance" presented three dramatic dances each creating a powerful emotional reality with a unique physicality and benefitting from the intimacy of the Rita Morgenthau Theater. The program opened with "Je suis une autre" with choreography by Brice Mousset in collaboration with Christine Dakin and danced by the duo with music by Yves Montand and Olafur Arnalds, and costuming by Yasuyo d'Arch. The second work, "Expediente/La piel que habito", was choreographed by Alejandro Chávez with music by Ben Frost, Dirk Haubrich, Angel de Lux, Olafur Arnalds, Ignacio Baca and traditional Arabic Music, and costuming by Angel de Lux. "Expediente/La piel que habito" was danced by Irma Monterrubio, Claudia Izquierdo, Mariano Aviles, Alejandra Barboza, Maria Concepcion Mondragon, Cinthia Ramos, and Alejandro Chavez. The final work Dakin danced by Dakin, "Deep Song" was choreographed and costumed by Martha Graham. The music, "Sinister Resonance" by Henry Cowell, for prepared piano, was arranged for guitar and performed by William Coulter.
Coulter spoke about his musical arrangement for "Deep Song." "I was inspired by the movement of the dance to play with contrasts: aggressive and delicate, loud and soft, harsh and beautiful - in order to support and dialogue with the expression of the dance."
Dakin commented, "It is immensely rewarding to perform and to present the work of young artists, and to perform Graham's work with new collaborators like William Coulter. We had an audience of all ages, dancers and actors, and many students seeing their teachers as artists, performers, for the first time. Sharing and passing on our art is what keeps it alive, and taking artistic risks with new collaborations is what makes the tradition worth keeping alive."
Brice Mousset spoke about his collaboration with Dakin. "Our dynamic hit it off right away, sharing our doubts, hope, artistic and dance point of views, even though we are coming from different generations, cultural and dance backgrounds. I anted our differences to be our strength...use them to build our characters, our story. The fusion between the two of us could only work with our acceptance of being vulnerable and uncomfortable first. Then it was all about trust, hard work, fun and honest collaboration.
Dakin was grateful for the terrific Playhouse technical director Gary Kingston and his crew, lighting designer Geoffrey Bryant, and Steve Mauer's magic-making stagecraft. Dakin commented, "I'm very grateful to Pamela Moller Kareman, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, and to its Board of Directors for making it possible to present these programs at the Playhouse, a re-animation of Martha's dance collaborations here."
On the Playhouse faculty since 2006, Dakin's connection to the Playhouse comes through Martha Graham who was invited by Sanford Meisner, to teach at the Playhouse during her earliest and one of the most fruitful of her choreographic periods and is well known for the many actors she influenced.
Those who attended "A Moment in Dance" were thrilled by the performances. Dancer, Natalie Ortiz commented about the piece "Je suis une autre." "This rare appearance to see Mr. Mousset on stage was nothing short of spectacular. The raw emotion alone between the two was pure. You could feel with each movement they were shedding another layer to expose more and more vulnerability."
Gloria McLean, Director of LIFEDANCE, President of ADG, and former soloist, Erick Hawkins Dance Company praised "Deep Song." "Deep Song" blew me away with how strikingly modern it truly is all these years later. .... you transform this mundane functional object into a striking white geometrical abstract sculpture -- it was just stunning. A reminder of why Martha Graham made the shocking impact that she did."
We asked Dakin what is going on for her in the near future. "After I get back from the 3er Encuentro de Creación Coreográfica En Tiempo Real 2017 in Zamora, Mexico in July, I will be beginning a collaboration with Francesca Schironi (Classicist, University of Michigan) studying Martha Graham's corpus of dances inspired by mythology. Seeing through our different lenses - artist/dancer and scholar/academic will be challenging and revealing. I met Francesca during my time at Harvard, giving symposia with her students about Graham's reception of Greek theater."
She also commented, "My film, La Voz del Cuerpo / The Body Speaks, since its 2014 New York Independent Film Festival premiere, has been seen at Oaxaca's Museum of Contemporary Art (MACO), in Barcelona for UNESCO's International Day of Dance, and at universities in the US and Mexico. The Italian language version is complete, with a French language version almost ready."
Broadwayworld.com looks forward to more news of Christine Dakin and her wonderful projects that continue to celebrate the work of Martha Graham. For more information on Christine Dakin, please visit her web site at http://christinedakin.com/.
Photo Credit: Jacob Hiss