Mechanics of the Dance Machine

Hailed by some critics as an heir to both George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham, Karole Armitage returns to Dance Theater Workshop/New York Live Arts for the first time since the premiere of her groundbreaking work, Drastic-Classicism (1981). For her 2013 premiere, Mechanics of the Dance Machine, Armitage is exploring a new form of presentation. The audience is invited on stage to see movement from novel points of view and to participate in the performance itself by following light cues indicating where to walk or stand. The idea came to Armitage while working on the David Adjmi play, Marie Antoinette at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University. At Versailles, the court was given the privilege of watching Marie Antoinette dress, eat, play, and sleep. The voyeuristic thrill of intimate observation led Armitage to the idea of putting an audience on stage observing the ferocious concentration of dancers.

Mechanics of the Dance Machine alternates between electrically fierce dance and metaphors of intimacy and its unfinished business. The audience follows pathways created in red light by lighting designer Clifton Taylor that move in and around the dancers. The patterns have a beauty of their own derived from mathematical shapes called Walsh functions. The asymmetrical patterns become increasing complex as the dance unfolds. Audience members can stand, walk or chose to sit in reserved seats as they prefer. The evolving checkerboard patterns seen from seats will provide rich geometrical designs as dancers move inside the unconventional frames and oddly shaped spaces. 

Armitage will continue mixing pointe work and non-pointe work with fractal geometry (the shape of mountains and clouds), improvisation, and contemporary practices in a hybrid performance with music by composer, Gabriel Prokofiev, a dance, grime, electro and hip hop producer trained in classical composition. (Gabriel is the grandson of Sergei Prokofiev.) Using material from Prokofiev’s Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra, and nostalgic fragments of Bach, Armitage and dancers explore a new framework for expressive movement suffused with eroticism, fertile impurities, improper hybrids and unexpected idiosyncrasies including DNA from the Swan Lake port de bras, experienced from multiple perspectives.


Feb 1 Stay Late Discussion: Fashion and Dance with Peter Speliopoulos and Alba Clemente
Feb 7 Stay Late Discussion: Sustaining a Career in Dance with Elisa Monte and Stephen Petronio

Armitage Gone! Dance receives generous support from the Shubert Foundation, the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, the LLWW Foundation, the Jerome Robbins Foundation and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.