An artist uses the imagination, trying to find a way to a result. An artist is alone, walking around in the dark feeling naked. It is all new, every time. As neuroscience discovers and proves that we are metaphorical thinkers, I wonder why dance, a sublimely metaphorical art form, is losing popularity. Every U.S. presenter states, “The hardest sell is dance.”
Is dance less popular in the U.S. because it is missing from the media? Does its lack of a role in the economic system make it irrelevant? (I am not referring to win/lose TV or adding heat to a pop star’s glamour.)
When I worked for Madonna in the ‘90s, she frequently pointed out that I was a fool to remain in dance. She was right. Madonna came to New York to be a dancer but needed a bigger canvas. Some artists take the Faustian bargain—more glory in exchange for the gift. When you trick yourself, the gift goes.
This is where Mana comes in. They give us the gift of a place to work. Our daily ballet class is followed by six hours of pure experimentation, seeking in the dark, trying to find our way to art. The dancers are partners in the creative wilderness, defying the odds in naked exploration. We have fun. We spend the day in the pursuit of discovery and how to make it tangible so that we can share it with others.
Nietzsche wrote, “Welcome, tarantula! Your triangle and symbol sit black upon your back . . . Revenge sits within your soul . . . with revenge your poison makes the soul giddy!” My giddy revenge is to continue to love the art of dance.
KAROLE ARMITAGE, artistic director of Armitage Gone! Dance, is renowned for pushing the boundaries to create contemporary works that blend dance, music, science, and art to engage in philosophical questions about the search for meaning. She directed MaggioDanza di Firenze al Teatro Comunale (1995-99) and the Biennale of Contemporary Dance in Venice (2004), and served as resident choreographer for the Ballet de Lorraine in France (1999-2004). She has created works for many companies from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, the Ballet de L’Opéra de Paris, to the Tasmanian Dance Company in Australia; directed opera at Teatro di San Carlo in Naples,Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Het National Opera in Amsterdam; and choreographed two productions for the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. Armitage’s work is at once both esoteric and popular. She choreographed Broadway Productions (Passing Strange and Hair, the latter earning her a Tony Nomination), videos for Madonna and Michael Jackson, several films for Merchant Ivory productions, and Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna (2012). She was honored with a Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University and a Simons Fellow at the University of Kansas in 2016 to study Native American Plains Culture and is currently an MIT Media Lab Directors Fellow. Her next company production, Halloween Unleashed, takes place at La MaMa from October 27–29, 2017.