Armitage Gone! Dance
Oct 6 & 7
$32 Orchestra, $28 Mezzanine, $15 Students and children
Saturday, October 6, 2007 @ 8 PM
Sunday, October 7, 2007 @ 4 PM
Co-presented with Jacob’s Pillow Dance.
Known for the stunning originality and beauty of her work, Karole Armitage is the founder of Armitage Gone! Dance, a company whose poetic dream-like productions combine new dance, music and art — a unique vision of ballet technique wedded to the modernist vocabulary. They’ll perform two recent works: Ligeti Essays, a suite of concise, jewel-like movements choreographed to music by the great Hungarian composer György Ligeti; and Time Is the Echo of an Axe Within a Wood which the New York Times called “one of the most beautiful dances to be seen in New York in a very long time.” David Salle’s set for Ligeti Essays was described in the Times as “breathtaking… it takes on the look of a remote icy pond in the middle of a dream.” Dance critic Clive Barnes says of Armitage, “her new program is far out and altogether terrific.”
JACOB’S PILLOW AND MASS MOCA CO-PRESENT
DANCE FAVORITE ARMITAGE GONE! DANCE
IN EVENING BONDING DANCE, MUSIC, AND NEW ART
Becket, MA, September 7, 2007 — Having enjoyed much acclaim during Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival performing in the Doris Duke Studio Theatre in 2006, Karole Armitage returns to the Berkshires with her company Armitage Gone! Dance and a program that is, according to New York Post dance critic Clive Barnes, “far out and altogether terrific.” Co-presented by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and MASS MoCA, Armitage Gone! Dance comes to MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center Saturday, October 6 at 8pm and Sunday, October 7 at 4pm, bringing a multifaceted and poetic combination of dance, music, and new art. By mixing fiercely technical ballet moves with an emotional, atmospheric insight into the future of dance, Armitage has gained acclaim as one of the leading movement artists of her generation, with work known for its diverse influences and seamlessly incorporated visions. A former dancer for George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham, she’s worked on Merchant-Ivory films, choreographed music videos for Madonna and Michael Jackson, directed operas and ballets throughout Europe, and routinely calls on leading artists, set designers, and composers to collaborate on her anything-but-routine works. The performance will showcase two of Armitage’s recent works: Time is the echo of an axe within a wood and Ligeti Essays.
Performance and Ticket Information for Armitage Gone! Dance: Performances are Saturday, October 6 at 8pm and Sunday, August 7 at 4pm. Tickets in the orchestra section of the theater are $32, mezzanine tickets are $28. Discounted tickets are also available for students and children. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office, located at 87 Marshall Street, North Adams, MA and www.massmoca.org. Box Office hours are 11am to 5pm Wednesday through Monday. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours.
Time is the echo of an axe within a wood was the first work Armitage showed in New York City In 2004. Its outstanding reception there strengthened her resolve to officially reconstitute her company in this country after choreographing and working extensively in Europe. The work’s title is drawn from a poem by Philip Larkin whose lines read in part: “This is the first thing/I have understood/Time is the echo of an axe/Within a wood.” Of particular note are the diversely gifted dancers, who exhibit a clearly intuitive intelligence and finely honed technique. With credits covering a range of assorted companies from across the United States and abroad, these dancers seem to have been born specifically for Armitage’s rangy, loose-limbed explorations of space and physical decisions that mandate lightning-fast reflexes In true Armitage style, the full work features a tapestry of music by diverse composers, ranging from the classical folk innovator Béla Bartók to Charles Ives and contemporary classical artists Gavin Byars and frequent Armitage collaborator Annie Gosfield. With movement concepts rooted both in the gut and the brain, the work, Armitage notes, “explores the tension between grace and a world out of joint. The theme of time, both psychological and physical, is a thread that links dream-, memory-, and clock-time together throughout the work.” Rounding out the piece’s disorienting sense of fluidity and disconnection are hazy atmospherics by noted lighting designer Clifton Taylor and a dramatic backdrop by David Salle, the major abstract-expressionist painter and longtime collaborator on Armitage’s projects.
Ligeti Essays is a suite of movements choreographed to music by the great Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti. Armitage was attracted to the Ligeti compositions for their mixture of classicism and innovation, in addition to the complex and contradictory natures, which are expressed in the music as much as in the choreography. For the piece, which premiered at the Joyce Theatre on February 6, 2007, the dancers enter and exit the stage purposefully in a series of stylistically varied duets, trios, and quartets. Armitage creates an icy ambiance through motion and Ligeti’s compositions contribute to that mood through sound. Completing the mood, the dancers are surrounded by a frozen dream world created with the help of David Salle’s “magical and deceptively simple setting,” as described by Gia Kourlas of The New York Times. “As the lighting gently shifts from light to dark, the stage takes on the look of a remote, icy pond in the middle of a dream.” The dancers constructabstract designs with their bodies and shift effortlessly from challenging moments of precision and experimentation to ones of beauty and ease.
Karole Armitage’s career, like her choreography, is remarkable for its fearlessness and concentrated diversity. Originally from Lawrence, Kansas, Armitage’s early training was with a former member of New York City Ballet, from whom she learned a great deal of George Balanchine repertory at a young age. After studying with Ballet West when the company and school were based in Aspen (she crossed the Rockies on foot from Crested Butte to get there and did the reverse to get home three weeks later), she attended the School of American Ballet—the training ground for Balanchine's New York City Ballet. She performed until 1975 as a member of Switzerland’s Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, a company founded by Balanchine that Jacob’s Pillow brought for their U.S. debut in summer 2007, which gained resounding acclaim from both audiences and critics. The next year, she began performing with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, where she remained for six years. From the choreography she then developed, it became clear that she had absorbed Cunningham’s sensitive iconoclasm. Much like Cunningham, her choreography merged classic Western concepts—balletic movement on a proscenium stage—with philosophies, music, and aesthetics which showed her determination to take on Western standards, Very soon, she earned a landslide of critical attention, notably a multi-page spread in Vanity Fair branding her the “punk ballerina” in 1986.
Her collaborators aside from David Salle (to whom she was once married) and Ligeti include fashion designer Christian Lacroix and famed filmmakers Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, who asked Armitage to contribute choreography on their films The Golden Bowl and The White Countess. Costumes, sets, and lights for a number of Armitage’s works in the mid-1980s were by Charles Atlas. Additional Armitage credits include The Mollino Room, a work commissioned for American Ballet Theatre by its then-director Mikhail Baryshnikov, and music video choreography for Madonna’s “Vogue” and Michael Jackson’s “In the Closet.” The Tarnished Angels, danced to music by Charles Mingus, was commissioned by Rudolf Nureyev in 1987 for his Paris Opera Ballet. Armitage launched Armitage Gone! Dance in 2005, and the company performs annually in New York City and tours across the U.S. and abroad.
During company breaks, Armitage directs opera productions or creates new ballets for dance companies in the U.S. and Europe. For fifteen years following her departure from New York, Armitage directed ballets for leading dance companies in Italy and France and operas for major theaters throughout the continent. In 2004, she was director of the dance portion of the Venice Biennale. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography in 1986, was made a Chevalier in France’s Order of Arts and Letter in 1992, and was made an Officer of the same order ten years later. In 2005 she was awarded Italy’s Grand Prix Roscigno Danza. In 2007 Armitage premiered four new works: two for Armitage Gone! Dance, one for Washington Ballet, and one for Rambert Dance Company in London.
This event is co-presented with Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.