Karole Armitage

Choreographer, Director of Armitage Gone!
Born Lawrence, KS, 1954
Lives in New York, NY

Photo by Marco Mignani.

The production of In this dream that dogs me supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts has greatly expanded the company's public profile and increased our visibility in the community. The prestigious affiliation with Foundation for Contemporary Arts has enabled Armitage Gone! Dance to fulfill our goals of further establishing a strong creative and administrative foundation, a stable future, and increased opportunities for the company.

Karole Armitage, January 18, 2006


Karole Armitage was trained in classical ballet and is known for contemporary works that blend dance, music, science, and art to engage in philosophical questions. She joins a legacy of process-focused experimental dance, bringing it to the language of ballet and modern dance.

As a professional dancer, Armitage performed in George Balanchine's Grand Théâtre de Genève Company and in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Armitage created her first piece in 1978 and led her own company, The Armitage Ballet, throughout the 1980s. She directed the Ballet of Florence, Italy from 1995 to 1999; she served as resident choreographer for the Ballet de Lorraine in France from 1999 to 2004. Armitage is director of the New York-based Armitage Gone! Dance Company. Her works include Drastic-Classicism (1981/2009), The Watteau Duets (1985/2009), Rave (2001), and Time is the echo of an axe within a wood (2004).

With the support of her 2004 Grants to Artists award, Armitage created In this dream that dogs me (2005), with a score by Annie Gosfield and design by David Salle. Since receiving her 2004 FCA grant, Armitage has created Ligeti Essays (2006), Connoisseurs of Chaos (2008), Made in Naples (2009), Itutu (2009), Three Theories (2010), GAGA-Gaku (2011), Mechanics of the Dance Machine (2013), and Four Seasons—A Spinning Planet (2014).

Armitage has created works for companies including The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Ballet de Monte Carlo, Lyon Opera Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, The Washington Ballet, The Kansas City Ballet, and the Tasmanian Dance Company in Australia. She has choreographed productions for the New York Philharmonic and directed operas at Teatro di San Carlo in Naples and Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Armitage's other projects include Broadway productions, videos for Madonna and Michael Jackson, several films for Merchant Ivory productions, and the Cirque du Soleil's Amaluna. She has collaborated with contemporary and experimental composers such as Rhys Chatham, Vijay Iyer, Lukas Ligeti, and John Luther Adams. Artists such as Jeff Koons, David Salle, Phillip Taaffe, and Brice Marden have designed sets and costumes for her works.

After her 2004 Grants to Artists award, Armitage was nominated for a Tony for her choreography of the Broadway musical Hair in 2009 and in the same year, she was named Commandeur of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. She was an Artist in Residence at the Chinati Foundation in 2012. Prior to her 2004 FCA grant, Armitage received a 1986 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.

Armitage is a graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2013, she received an honorary Doctorate of the Arts from the University of Kansas.

Artist Statement

Seek beauty.

Show mutability.

Move like a blaze of consciousness.

Perfection is the devil.

Express the eroticism of gravity.

On the technical side, my dances are practical experiments in balance. The foot, leg, arm, and trunk of the body distribute the energy of movement in new ways. The gestures frequently look improvisatory and feel as if the dancers are creating them for themselves. The unexpected combinations, off-balance motions, breaks, and accelerations all serve to convey emotions and ideas which contribute to the larger symbolic implications of the work.

Ideally my dances create a sense of awe, transporting audiences to a realm where, as in nature, the world feels enormous and the self is small. My goal is that the artful, expressive movement of my dancers will in turn move audiences to contemplate the mystery of their own lives.

There are forces that move us which we understand; others which we don't. My dances are combinations of both. The ultimate purpose in bringing together such forces is to create beautiful and symbolically meaningful movement that quickens our sense of the world.