Karole Armitage was Chinati’s first dancer/choreographer as Artist in Residence. She spent six weeks in Marfa, two of them with a small company of dancers as well as her visual director, Doug Fitch, and composer, Corey Dargel. Together, in a workshop-type atmosphere, they rehearsed a new piece called Fables on Global Warming—what Armitage calls a “performance art musical” about sustainability, based on traditional and multicultural animal fables, from the classic tales of Aesop through the 17th century fables of Jean de La Fontaine. Using music, spoken text, puppetry, and a variety of dance forms (preening deer en pointe), the piece explores the connections between humans and animals, culture and nature, and science and art. As the culmination of her residency, Armitage and company presented a work-in-progress performance of Fables at the Crowley Theatre on Sunday, November 18, 2012. The work had its premiere at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, on September 24, 2013.
Karole Armitage was trained in classical ballet and began her professional career in 1973 as a member of the Ballet du grand Théâtre de Genève, Switzerland. In 1976, she was invited to join Merce Cunningham’s company, where she remained for five years. Armitage created her first piece in 1978, and throughout the ‘80s, she led her own New York-based dance company, Armitage Ballet. From 1999 to 2004 she was resident choreographer of Ballet de Lorraine in France, and in 2005 served as the director of the Venice Biennale Festival of Contemporary Dance. She choreographed two Broadway productions, Passing Strange and Hair (Tony nomination), videos for Madonna and Michael Jackson, and Cirque du Soleil’s 2012 tent show, Amaluna. In 2009, she was awarded France’s most prestigious award, Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.