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Rita Christiani

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rita Christiani
Born(1917-12-22)December 22, 1917
DiedMay 23, 2008(2008-05-23) (aged 90)
Years active1940s

Rita Christiani (1917-2008) was a Trinidad-born African-American dancer who appeared in American films during the 1940s.


Christiani was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad on December 22, 1917.[1]

She danced and toured with the Katherine Dunham Company in the early 1940s.[2] In the course of touring, Christiani met the independent avante-garde filmmaker, Maya Deren,[3] and was given a role in Deren’s film Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946). Deren was the main character in the film and Christiani danced the role of Deren’s alter ego, their images interchanging in black and white counterpoint to the dancer Frank Westbrook.[4][5] Anaïs Nin was also in the film.[6]

Footage of Christiani from this film was included in the documentary In the Mirror of Maya Deren (2002) by Martina Kudlacek.[2]

Christiani and Deren became close friends, sharing the bond of being uprooted from their native lands as children and coming to America.[7]

Her other film appearances include The Black Swan (1942) starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara, Road to Morocco (1942) starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and the musicals Thank Your Lucky Stars (1942) and Happy Go Lucky (1943).[2]

After working in films and as a dancer, Christiani may have been a nurse in Chicago.[8]

Christiani died on May 23, 2008 in Brooklyn, New York.[1]



  1. ^ a b "Rita Christiani". IMDb. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c McCann, Bob (2009). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 9780786437900. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  3. ^ Nichols, Bill (2009). Maya Deren and the American Avant-Garde. University of California Press. p. 131. ISBN 9780520227323. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Nichols, Bill (2009). Maya Deren and the American Avant-Garde. University of California Press. p. 141. ISBN 9780520227323. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  5. ^ Baena, Rosalia (2014). Transculturing Auto/Biography: Forms of Life Writing. Routledge. pp. 75–76. ISBN 9780415759496. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  6. ^ "Ritual in Transfigured Time". IMDb. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  7. ^ Boelhower, William (2013). New Orleans in the Atlantic World: Between Land and Sea. Routledge. p. 205. ISBN 9780415849722.
  8. ^ Clark, Veve A.; Johnson, Sara E., eds. (2006). Kaiso! Writings by and about Katherine Dunham. Madison WI: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 126. ISBN 9780299212742. Retrieved September 18, 2017.

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This page was last edited on 1 January 2021, at 09:21
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