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Armitage Gone! Dance

Reviewed by Phyllis Goldman

Presented by and at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave., NYC, Jan. 10-28.

Karole Armitage, missing from the New York dance scene for some time, returned as part of the Altogether Different series at the Joyce presenting an eclectic, but somewhat lacking program of choreography. All the condiments were in place—stylish costumes, splendid dancers, accented lighting—but the main course, her choreography, was without defined structure and much too repetitive. Beginning with "I Had a Dream," in memory of the 10th anniversary of George Balanchine's death, she choreographed a leggy collection of variations that showed the elongated muscles of the company members in a relentless progression of grande battements, arabesque penchés, and overly articulated toe-heel walking.

Though everything was not beautiful in this "Dream" ballet, the elegant perfection of Paolo Fazioli added a great deal. Her flexibility was put to use in a gazillion à la seconde extensions, and they were thrilling—once, twice, thrice, until one began to wonder if Armitage's vocabulary were only that. The men, in low-slung, see-through pants, were a smart contrast to the lone woman in a tutu and pointe shoes. The piece began with a "pop," but descended rapidly into a lethargy of ideas. The three short pieces that followed were so similar, it was difficult to discern if the "Balanchine" had truly ended, and Armitage had begun.

Armitage's funk and punk (for which she is noted) took over after intermission, but, again, oodles of leg stuff seemed to be the main attraction. The final piece obliged the dancers to wear outlandish outfits and matching body paint. Only the rugged Dimitri Domojirov, in brilliant yellow, carried it off. It was demeaning to see Fazioli paraded out topless with a large beehive cap on her beautiful head. By doing so, Armitage destroyed the illusion she had created for her earlier in the evening.

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