Getting back to where we once belonged: Karole Armitage at New York Live Arts


When I perused a press release of the program choreographer Karole Armitage and her performance troupe, Armitage Gone! Dance, intend to present at New York Live Arts in March, it stunned me. She’s calling the evening of dances “A Pandemic Notebook.” But no one seems to have informed the now 70-something dance adventurous (yes, the “punk ballerina”) that there’s a plague in the land. She doesn’t seem to have suffered the attention deficit disorder that has blighted the output of many in the past two years. This artist has been busy!

The photos spooling above show the dancers on the catwalk — or are they are doing the boogaloo? Dressed in the designer Marc Jacob’s Fall ‘21 collection, they move to the sound of Native American saxophonist and composer Jim Pepper’s Goin’ Down to Muskogee.

I am most curious to see what Armitage will do with the subject of Donald Trump, whose presidency she portends to wrap into a diptych of dances, Beautiful Monster and Louis. Is it possible that, using dance, she can vanquish him? (No one and nothing else can.) Inspired by a Luchino Visconti film La Strega Bruciata Viva (The Witch Burned Alive) and Roberto Rossellini’s La prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (The Taking of Power by Louis XIV), as well as Trump’s presidency, the two works look at how celebrity and fashion can distract from the manipulation of power. Michael Gordon, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Thomas Adès, and David T. Little provide the music.

With inspirations ranging from punk to African aesthetics to commedia dell’arte, as well as fashion and popular dance forms, Armitage also finds ideas in science. She manifests her vision in dance “dreamscapes” that take the viewer on a poetic journey to evoke mysterious landscapes of reverie, dream, and altered consciousness. That sounds very cool, and I’d love to see it.

The genre-mixing choreographer/creator, whose body speaks fluent Balanchine and Cunningham, is an exceptionally accomplished woman of dance. Her client list ranges from Madonna and Michael Jackson, Merchant Ivory Productions, Cirque du Soleil, to Marc Jacobs. In the 1980s she worked in Europe, directing major companies, Ballet of Florence; Venice Biennale of Contemporary Dance; and, as resident choreographer for the Ballet de Lorraine in Nancy, Frances. She has directed operas and created new dance productions for major houses in the US and Europe, from the Paris Opera Ballet to Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, the Boston Ballet to the Boston Opera. The former in extremis Merce Cunningham dancer (1975-81) will dance with a noted partner, the former New York City Ballet dancer Jock Soto.

photo credit: julieta cervantes

A Pandemic Notebook | Armitage Gone! Dance | New York Live Arts | March 16-19

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Saturday February 5th: Just say ‘no’ to Netflix!

Dance · Music
an untitled love, chor: kyle abraham

As we bumble our way down the primrose path formerly known as real life, many have grown a tad too comfortable passing our evenings looking for love on streaming teevee services. I get it! #metoo! Guilty as charged! But don’cha think maybe the couch routine has outlasted its usefulness? And that the time has come to wean? You did it as a baby! You can do it again.

The time is Saturday, February 5. The time to say no to Netflix.

jazz at lincoln center orchestra

That’s because, if you live in Los Angeles, you have a fantastic choice of live performances that night, one each at opposite ends of our fair city. The 405 Freeway will take you to both venues. In the northern reaches, at The Soraya on the campus of Cal State Northridge, Wynton Marsalis will be featured with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The Soraya’s executive director, Thor Steingraber, who has a yen for blazing big-band music, is on the cusp of a five-performance jazz festival, ‘Jaz at Naz.’ You’ll be hearing more about this, because, we are going. This is a bellwether house of acoustics — and here’s guessing Mr. Marsalis is ready to clean your clock with some scorching sound.

wynton marsalis live at the soraya

Way down south in the land of Long Beach, we are so fortunate to experience the state-of-the-art dancers of A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham in a new work now touring the country. Set to the music of the neo-soul, Grammy Award-winning R&B artist D’Angelo, An Untitled Love serves as Kyle Abraham’s creative exaltation of Black love and unity. He dedicates this feel-good work—its visceral hope, solace, and joy—to family, culture, and community strengthened over generations and lifetimes. Did you hear that? It’s a feel-good work!!

kyle abraham in long beach

After touring An Untitled Love on the West Coast, A.I.M is headed for shows at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). But please … not need to fly to New York to see it. Instead, drive to the Carpenter Center, and see this hot performance there. We are very fortunate that Megan Kline-Crockett, the Carpenter Center’s executive director, has forged this relationship with Kyle, who just added to his long list of kudos, an honorarium from the Kennedy Center. So let’s support what Megan does for us!

I’ve been attending concerts since the turn of the new year, and find it such an uplifting thing to do. It has a quieter more meditative vibe to it. But that seems to suit the times. Our theaters really need support right now, and wearing a mask at a show is not has horrible as it seems.

February 5. Pick one. Be there, and enjoy!

An Untitled Love | A.I.M by Kyle Abraham | Carpenter Center, Long Beach
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis | The Soraya, Northridge

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Film · Theater
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Ideas & Opinion
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