Monday, November 1, 2010

Karole Armitage - On Collaboration

Karole Armitage is an American dancer and Tony-nominated choreographer. Dubbed the "punk ballerina" in the 1980s, Karole spoke about her innovative vision and past collaborations with the New Vic Council (edited with permission). Members of the New Vic Council are ambassadors for The New Victory Theater, working to broaden the public’s awareness of the importance of arts education and championing the New Victory Theater Education Program and the New Vic/New 42 Youth Corps.

Collaborations are very important in my life. As Cora [Cahan] said, I’ve worked with many painters and sculptors, even with scientists, with composers. It’s something that I love because I think that creating a picture for the stage that we recognize our lives in is what you’re trying to do as an artist, and other ways of completing the picture just gives a wider perspective.

Collaboration is difficult; it takes a great deal of generosity. You have to be very clear; it can go awry very easily! I’m sure we all know that and one of the first [collaborations] I did in New York was (it’s a very long title) Time is the echo of an axe within a wood and it’s a good example of the way I think about collaboration. It was Bartok music and David Salle, who’s a painter, designed this environment for the dance to take place in and he had this brilliant idea of taking beaded curtain, very cheap but it looked like a million dollars. We surrounded the stage on three sides with this beaded curtain so the dancers would enter and exit through these beads, so there was kind of like the real world and the imaginary world.

When you entered into this arena it created this sense of mystery that was wonderful. Everything became about light. A woman would be dancing a solo and then a man would enter through this mysterious curtain and come into her world. And you, [the audience] don’t know - is this a figment of her imagination? Is this a character from her past? Is this something she would like, like she’s imagining for the future, is this reality? [The piece] was playing with the difference between clock time and psychological time and was just very beautiful. I love beauty and that’s not something you’re supposed to say in the contemporary world. Ugly is “modern.” Well, I am very interested in how beauty can be modern quite succinctly.

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