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(c)Marco Mignani
© Marco Mignani

Karole Armitage

Karole Armitage began her professional career from 1973 - 1975 as a member of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève under Artistic Director George Balanchine. In 1976, she joined Merce Cunningham's company, where she remained for five years, performing leading roles in Cunningham's landmark works. Armitage created her first piece in 1979, 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 with projects that continue to this day. She has created new works on companies from Bolshoi Ballet to Tasmanian Dance Company including Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Lyon Opera Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Washington Ballet, Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Kansas City Ballet, Greek National Opera’s Ballet, Bern Ballet and Rambert Dance Company. Armitage served from 1996 - 2000 as Director of MaggioDanza and from 2000 – 2004 as resident choreographer for the Ballet de Lorraine. She directed the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Dance in 2004. After her company’s successful season at the Joyce Theater in 2004, Armitage’s focus shifted to her New York-based company, Armitage Gone! Dance. Armitage has choreographed Broadway productions such as Passing Strange and Hair, which garnered her a Tony nomination, music videos for Madonna and Michael Jackson, several Merchant Ivory films and Cirque du Soleil’s 2012 tent show Amaluna. She created a choreography to Stravinsky’s Agon for the London Philharmonia conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. As the 2016 Artistic Director of Italy’s Ravello Festival she curated an evening of American Dance, inviting New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, William Forsythe, Richard Move and her company. Armitage has directed operas from the baroque and contemporary repertoire for several prestigious houses in Europe, including Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Greek National Opera in Athens, Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam and at Boston Lyric Opera. She choreographed The Cunning Little Vixen and A Dancer’s Dream for the New York Philharmonic and provided the choreography for Marie Antoinette, a playwright by David Adjmi. In 2020, Armitage choreographed the Marc Jacobs Fall Winter 2020/2021 Fashion Show. Most recent projects include A Stab At Time in collaboration with the Santa Fe Institute and commissioned music by Gregory Spears; The Hot Seat, a work in collaboration with MIT Media Lab designer Agnes Cameron and a Nutcracker with dancers performing folk and classical dance from Asia, Africa and the Americas. Armitage is a MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow.

She has collaborated with contemporary and experimentalist composers such as John Luther Adams, Thomas Ades, Rhys Chatham, Annie Gosfield, Vijay Iyer, David Lang, Lukas Ligeti, Lois V Vierk and Reiko Yamada. The sets and costumes for her work are often designed by leading artists in the contemporary art world including Alba and Francesco Clemente, Karen Kilimnik, Brice Marden, Jeff Koons, Vera Lutter, David Salle and Philip Taaffe. Lighting designer Clifton Taylor and Costume Designer Peter Speliopoulos are the resident company designers. Her scientific collaborators include Dr. Brian Greene (Columbia University), Dr. Paul Ehrlich (Stanford University) and Dr. John Harte (University of California, Berkeley). Her full length works on theoretical physics and climate change were presented at the World Science Festival and in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History

Her work has been the subject of 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. In 2009, she was awarded France’s most prestigious award Commandeur dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres. She is the 2012 recipient of the artist in residence grant at the Chinati Foundation and received an honorary Doctorate of the Arts from the University of Kansas in 2013. In 2016, Armitage was honored with a Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard and a Simons Fellowship at the University of Kansas to study Native American Plains Culture with a focus on Kansa, Paweee and Osage.