By Anthony R. Ponzio
It has been said, with a fair amount of confidence, that New York City is one of the cultural capitals of the world. Want to go to the theater? Hear a symphony? Watch ballet? Dine in the finest restaurant or the greasiest comfort-food-serving hole-in-the-wall? See priceless works of art? Shop at some of the most exclusive boutiques on the planet? How about laughing at a comedy club, listening at a jazz lounge or even performing at an open mic night? It’s all there and $2.50 will bring you to any number of events on any given day.
For those artists and performers who everyone comes to see, it is dreams and hard work that bring them to the Big Apple. Like Mr. Sinatra sang, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere; and it is often the goal of those dreamers to make it here.
Karole Armitage – the punk ballerina, a Tony Award winning choreographer, a woman whose work was commissioned by such heavy hitters as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolph Nureyev, someone who worked in Switzerland, Italy and France – has, without question, made it here.
Now she’s leaving.
Armitage will not be moving far, however. Armitage Gone! Dance, her dance company founded in 2004 and housed in New York City, will be puddle jumping to nearby Mana Contemporary, a 1,000,000 square foot art center located in Jersey City, New Jersey.
“It was an easy decision to leave New York, due to the fact that Mana is such an innovative, thoughtful and beautiful project,” said Armitage.
This innovative project that she’s referring to – Mana Contemporary – was founded in 2010 and is revolutionary in its methods of art storage and art collection management while bringing together artists and collectors with several in-house galleries and artists’ studios.
Armitage will be one of two dance companies to be housed at the center, the other being Shen Wei Dance Arts, another big name in the world of dance. This is the “primary place, it will be our home,” continued Armitage, “another really special thing about Mana, there are artists there and a chance to do collaborations, like nowhere else in the world. It’s wonderful.”
The idea that a dance company might not fit into the fold of an art storage facility and gallery didn’t faze Armitage, “we’re exactly in line with everything else going on, it’s the exact same idea…the medium is the body, not paint.”
Perhaps the new space and the change in atmosphere gave a bit of a charge to the choreographer, as she mentioned her latest project, the inaugural piece her company will work on at Mana, Armitage said “I have one specific project in mind, a theatrical piece based on fables from around the world, all stories related to power in the world, relating to global warming – animal stories, some over 2,000 years old.”
She spent “about 5 years thinking about doing this and [global warming] is the single most import thing facing the planet,” continued Armitage.
Without giving too much away, Armitage teased that the piece will be, “charming, witty, funny, penetrating. [The stories] lasted thousands of years, from around the globe. It covers all the bases.”
With “Asian aesthetics, visual dazzle, but not show biz dazzle,” Armitage wants the piece to be “metaphoric, a little detail. It lets the audience participate, it’s a dialogue.”
It might very well be this sense of collaboration and participation that brought Armitage to her new home at Mana Contemporary, they are “visionaries in profit/non-profit and bringing people together from around the world, it’s very exciting.”
“One other small thing,” added Armitage, “I love the neighborhood.”