Classical dance meets electric guitar—a lot of electric guitar
Classical dance meets electric guitar—a lot of electric guitar Credit: Julieta Cervantes

In a recent interview, choreographer Karole Armitage told the BBC about a career-changing insight she had in the late 1970s. After three years performing Balanchine ballets in Switzerland, she asked herself, “What am I doing in a tutu? I’m from Kansas!” Without totally abandoning her classical training, Armitage reclaimed her down-to-earth roots—notably in Drastic-Classicism (1981, revised 2009), one of three pieces that Armitage Gone! Dance will perform here. This exercise in precision flailing for ten dancers is set to Rhys Chatham‘s avant-garde punk score, played onstage by a drummer and five electric guitarists.

Armitage’s Watteau Duets (1985, revised 2009), also on the program, takes two dancers and two onstage musicians on a “romantic” journey marked by an underlying cynicism borrowed from the deceptively genteel canvases of 18th-century French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau. The live portion of David Linton’s sample-studded score will be played by Talibam!, whose grinding sound evokes the tawdriest strip show ever. Based on the traditional Parisian apache dance, Watteau Duets exhibits plenty of bruising tenderness. Gaga-Gaku (2011), derived from Asian music and dance, completes the program.