Five Questions with Karole Armitage

(Photo: William Isaac and Emily Wagner in “Three Theories”; Photo by Julieta Cervantes)

Name: Karole Armitage

Artistic Director/Choreographer
Organization/ Company: Armitage Gone!
URL: http://www.

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

In Kansas and Colorado where a former New York City Ballet dancer and American Ballet Theatre dancer gave classes. In Colorado I danced in a wood shed as the only student and hiked over a 13,000 foot pass to attend summer workshops with Ballet West – pointe shoes in the backpack. I loved ballet and wanted to pursue the austerity and glamour of the Balanchine aesthetic from age six. I came to NYC at age thirteen to study at School of American Ballet, danced with Balanchine in his Geneva company; joined Merce Cunningham in New York and then formed my own company. I was able to be as innovative as I hoped, due to support from Europe. The majority of my life since age seventeen have taken place across the pond.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

Dancing Serenade at age five in the school recital.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

Greater knowledge of composition in order to be completely free in the event of choreographing directly to music in an intimate way.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

7:45am yoga; 10am–noon working in a studio by myself on dance phrases; noon–6pm working with my company; 6–9pm answering email and raising money; 10pm dinner. 11pm reading.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

No. But you have to be as creative in surviving as you are in creating the art and you have to have an enormous capacity for humility to be in dance. Recently I have had the financial good fortune to work on Broadway. After a lifetime of no health insurance, no pension, and virtually no income, I may be okay. The price you pay to be in dance in the U.S. is too high. If this country thinks art is important, if it thinks non-commercial thinking is important, if it thinks that new ideas are important, we have to change how it is done. The current system is not working.

Armitage Gone! Dance will perform at Jacob’s Pillow July 14–18. Inspired by the book The Elegant Universe by physicist Brian Greene, Karole Armitage’s work Three Theories explores scientific themes including quantum mechanics, relativity, and string theory, all through her signature brand of athletic contemporary ballet.

To book tickets, go to or phone 413.243.0745.

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