KAROLE ARMITAGE, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Karole Armitage is the Artistic Director of the New York-based Armitage Gone! Dance Company founded in 2004. She was rigorously trained in classical ballet and began her professional career as a member of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, Switzerland (1973-1975), a company devoted exclusively to the repertory of George Balanchine. In 1976, she was invited to join Merce Cunningham's company, where she remained for five years, (1975-1981) performing leading roles in Cunningham's landmark works. Through her unique and acute knowledge of the aesthetic values of Balanchine and Cunningham, Armitage has created her own "voice" in the dichotomy of classical and modern dance, and is seen by some critics as the true choreographic heir to the two masters of 20th century American dance.
Known as the "punk ballerina," Armitage created her first piece in 1978, followed by the iconic Drastic-Classicism in 1981. Throughout the 80s, she led her own New York-based dance company, The Armitage Ballet. Commissions from the Paris Opera Ballet and American Ballet Theatre led to choreographic commissions in Europe throughout the 80s, 90s and into the early 2000s. She set new works on companies including the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, the Ballet de Monte Carlo, Lyon Opera Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, The Washington Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Kansas City Ballet, The Greek National Company, The Bern Ballet and Rambert Dance Company. Armitage served as Director of the 45-memeber MaggioDanza, the Ballet of Florence, Italy (1996-2000), the Biennale of Contemporary Dance in Venice (2004), and as resident choreographer for the Ballet de Lorrine in France (2000-2004). After her company's successful season at the Joyce in 2004, Armitage's focus shifted to creating her New York-based company, Armitage Gone! Dance.
Armitage is renowned for pushing boundaries to create contemporary works that blend dance, music and art to engage in philosophical questions about the search for meaning. She joins a legacy of process-focused experimental dance that embraces the ballet and modern dance heritage as well. She is inspired by disparate, non-narrative sources, from 20th century physics, to 16th century Florentine fashion, to pop culture and new media. In her hands, the classic vocabulary is given a needed shock to its system, with speed, fractured lines, abstractions and symmetry countermanded by asymmetry. Music is her script and she has collaborated with contemporary and experimentalist composers such as Rhys Chatham, Vijay Iyer, Lukas Ligeti and John Luther Adams. The scores can be marked by extreme lyricism as well as dissonance, noise and polyrhythms. The sets and costumes for her works are often designed by leading artists in the contemporary art world, including Jeff Koons, David Salle, Phillip Taaffe and Brice Marden.
Armitage’s work is at once both esoteric and the popular. Having choreographed two Broadway productions (Passing Strange and Hair, which garnered her a tony® nomination), videos for Madonna and Michael Jackson, several Merchant-Ivory films and Cirque du Soleil’s 2012 tent show, Amaluna. In 2009, she was awarded France’s most prestigious award, Commandeur dans l'orde des Arts et des Lettres. She is the 2012 recipient of the prestigious artist-in-residence grant at the Chinati Foundation, founded by artist Donald Judd in Marfa, Texas.
She has directed operas from the baroque and contemporary repertoire for prestigious houses of Europe, including Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the Lyric Opera in Athens, Het Muzik Theater in Amsterdam. She choreographed The Cunning Little Vixen in 2011 and A Dancer’s Dream in 2013 for the New York Philharmonic and provided choreography for Marie Antoinette, by playwright David Adjmi, at the American Repertory Theater Harvard and Yale Repertory Theater.
Her work has been the subject of two documentaries made for television: The South Bank Show (1985), directed by David Hinton and Wild Ballerina (1988), directed by Mark Kidel. Armitage is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts from the University of Kansas in 2013.